Steve Jones and Andre Stolz lead the Victorian Open Championship after the first round at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links.
Capitalising on the early conditions the pair shot a 5-under 67 to lead after the morning field, with no one in the afternoon able to chase them down.
“The front nine was beautiful, the wind started getting up a little on 10 all the way through the back nine but I was lucky that I played good and shot 4-under on the front,” said Stolz.
“Obviously I looked at the forecast and its going to blow pretty good this afternoon so you sort of get a bit more fired up to take advantage of the morning tee time.”
Jones echoed Stolz sentiments.
“On courses like this - close to the ocean, it’s likely that it will be quite windy so you really have to make the most of it quite early when it’s a bit easier, so it was nice this morning,” said Jones.
A weather enthusiast Stolz has been studying the conditions headed towards Barwon Heads for the remainder of the Victorian Open.
“I am a nut with the weather, I like to know what’s going on and it looks like we have had all the conditions this week – Monday with the northerly, Tuesday with the Southerly and yesterday it was an easterly,” said Stolz.
“It’s definitely about strategy around this golf course, I think with the south-easterly blowing as strong as it is makes the course more playable, if it was a south-westerly it would be a lot harder and the scores would be a lot worse.”
“Obviously there are birdies out there if you play well, like I did today, but there is plenty of trouble on every hole.”
While Stolz looks to the weather for an advantage Jones relied on his local knowledge to help him fire today.
“When you play well, you just play well but I have played down here a lot, I knew where to hit it off the tee, when to go for it and when not to,” said Jones who grew up in Geelong.
“I just made a few putts, hit some good shots and didn’t really miss a fairway so that was a big part of the success I had today.”
With three rounds to go Jones knows there is still plenty that can happen at the Victorian Open.
“I tried not to get my expectations up too much this week being at home and having a lot of people out here supporting me - I just try and keep it cool and play every hole as it comes and see how I go,” added Jones.
It was a day of highs and lows for New Zealand Professional Nick Gillespie – looking on track to equal the course record after shooting a 7-under 65 he was unfortunately disqualified for failing to sign his scorecard.
“It’s an unfortunate situation that no-one likes to see but at the end of the day all the players know it is their responsibility to sign the card and it’s a lesson he’ll learn and never repeat, I hope,” said Andrew Langford-Jones, Director of Tournaments for the PGA Tour of Australasia.
Whilst understandable disappointed, Gillespie was able to reflect on the situation in a light hearted manner.
“I have been practicing my signature this afternoon in preparation for next week,” said Gillespie, who will have the opportunity to correct his mistake next week at the NZ PGA Championship.
Finishing a shot off the lead at 4-under the card are Josh Geary (NZ) and PGA of Australia Trainee Ben Ford (VIC).
A further shot back again are Richard Green (VIC), Matthew Giles (NSW), Anthony Brown (VIC), Ryan Haywood (VIC) and Ben Wharton (VIC).