Southerly hampers scoring at Lake Macquarie Amateur
BY Anthony Powter | Australian Mens Amateur Tour | 2007 Lake Macquarie Amateur | Round Three | 27 Jan 2007
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It’s one of every golfer’s pet hates, waiting to finish a round after weather delays and when the southerly buster hit the shores of Nine Mile beach and the Belmont layout at around 1.00pm, it hit with force. Bunkers sprayed sand in every direction and hats, golf bags and balls went flying in all directions; the greens suddenly became unplayable and instantly became a wasteland once officials took action to suspend play.
Some, like Lindsay Wilson from Dubbo had taken advantaged of the morning conditions. Wilson was as low as 6 under going through 11 before the buster hit. Wilson finished 1 under for the day, reflecting as to how the scores blew out after play resumed. Wilson was not alone, mother nature dished out the punishment and it did it with such force. In the afternoon, “8’s” from some notable players became common particularly on the 15th, a 409 metre par 4 playing directly into the southerly.
The leaders started at 6 under, by day’s end Blake McGrory from Surfers Paradise holds a one shot lead at 4 under after a third round 71 from a solid pack of players including Aaron Pike, Lester Peterson, Justin Roach, overnight leader Andrew McCormack and Scotland’s Steven McEwan. Given the conditions you’d expect a Scot to perform, yet Steven McEwan, the 2005 Scottish Boys Stroke Play Champion, felt the course was not all that bad.
“The greens are softer than back home which meant they were more receptive. Sure, it was tough but you just have to be patient when this happens. I played solid and try and keep the ball near the ground. You have to be positive with your putts, once you loose that, you’ll rack up a score.”
McEwan is only a shot behind the leaders and should similar conditions confront the field tomorrow, he’ll have to be considered a chance.
They say patience is a virtue and more so when conditions get bad. Aaron Pike would have to be questioning his decision on the 11th, which undoubtedly cost the talented amateur the lead. Going through 10, Pike was at 7 under. A wayward drive off the tee (which was totally exposed to the southerly) resulted in his ball sailing in to the scrub; dead by all accounts. Pike elected to try and thread his ball through a maze of trees, the result costly, his momentum gone.
A superb bump and run by Pike on 17 to a foot was simply all class. He continues to be a threat at Belmont. Pike will hopefully take today’s experiences that cost him the lead into perspective going into tomorrow’s final round, but you have to admire his tenacity around a golf course, it’s full throttle and exciting.
Pike’s approach is in contrast to Justin Roach, who feels the importance of remaining patient is the key to victory at Belmont.
“You just have to be patient. Today was one of the worse conditions that I’ve played in. I’m wrapped to be only one behind given what happen out there. Seven hours to finish a round takes it’s toll, you know.”
It certainly was a long day with the majority of the scores falling well into the late 70’s. One notable exception was Rika Batibasaga.
At the 2006 Federal Amateur, Batibasaga took Rick Kulacz to the wire on the final day and the Queenslander fired the only round in the 60’s today, with a three under 69, rocketing up the leaderboard. England’s Stephen Lewton recorded a 70 along with another Scot, Craig Watson.
After the calm had returned to the Belmont clubhouse and the carnage had been accounted for, 17 players are within five shots of the leader Blake McGrory. The Championship is open for the taking, and many are ready to strike.
Photo – Anthony Powter