Birthday boy Downes on track for a great career
BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2003 New Zealand Open | Round Three | 18 Jan 2003
Queenslander Chris Downes celebrated his twenty third birthday by emerging from his significant test to date in professional golf in fine style, not only maintaining his lead at the New Zealand Open, but extending it.
Downes, who has for some time now had big wraps on his ability, showed also that he has the demeanour to succeed.
As an on-course television commentator at the New Zealand Open I had the opportunity to walk the round with Downes and having been aware of his growing reputation for some time, I was keen to see how he would handle a Saturday final pairing for the first time. He showed me that he has the game and temperament for the big time as he pieced together a series of high quality shots culminating in a three under to 69 to go with his opening thirty six hole total of seven under. He is two ahead of Mahal Pearce and Gareth Padisson as they head into round four.
What was most impressive about his round today was the range of shots he was required to hit and the manner in which he produced them. I vividly recall his four iron second to the par five fourth and a delightful little punched shot into the par four twelfth which was only 120 metres but showing experience beyond his years he hit a little knocked down shot to eight feet and made it.
He had the opportunity to let the round falter at one stage late in the round, but came back with an eagle on the par five seventeenth and a rock solid par at the last. The eagle was the result of a fine drive but a rather indifferent second from 180 meters with a seven iron that was thin but managed to run up the green to twenty feet from where he holed to regain the lead alone.
Downes was cool calm and collected in the heat of the battle remaining focused on the job at hand and on the day of his birth a new star of Australian golf was born. It may be perhaps too much to ask for him to go on and win the event tomorrow but the manner in which he went about his task today suggests that a win, if it does not come tomorrow, is not too far away.