Jake McLeod lit up the Creek Course at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links firing a course record 11-under 61 to lead the Oates Vic Open.
Teeing off the 10th in the morning field, McLeod got off to a quiet start but felt his game was on track to produce a low round.
With two birdies and a bogey in his opening six holes, his round ignited with a birdie at the par-4 16th which he quickly followed with an eagle at the par-5 17th before rounding out his first nine holes with a birdie.
After 14 holes the 22-year-old Queenslander was 6-under the card before he finished his round in a flurry, going birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie he signed for a 61 and the second round lead.
“It’s the first course record for me so I am stoked. I played unbelievably today, hit the ball so well and rolled in some putts too,” said McLeod.
“I was only 1-under through six and I was still feeling good but I wasn’t expecting anything, I had a couple of eagles and those three last holes really helped.
“In the first six I was hitting it close, I just made a bogey, other than that I was rolling it nicely and feeling really confident and hitting it pure.
“I hit it close to about 2 feet on 16 for birdie, and then rolled in a 20 footer on 17 for eagle. That got me going with 10 to play.”
2016 was McLeod’s first full season on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, he finished 32nd on the Order of Merit thanks to a runner-up finish at the South Pacific Open and top-25 finishes at the Emirates Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship.
With full status on his home Tour, McLeod’s confidence is growing, evident in his top-10 finish at the season opening Victorian PGA Championship and his performance today.
“The last few months have been pretty good for me. I think mentally I am a little better, my course strategy is a lot better and I am sticking to my game plan and feeling very confident,” added McLeod, who still isn’t used to the limelight.
“I saw you all (media) coming out there and I got a little nervous but I managed to hang on there in the end.
While he waited to see what unfolded in the second session of round two, McLeod relaxed in Barwon Heads.
“I am pretty nervous and pumped at the moment but it’s exciting,” added McLeod.
“I will go get my ice-cream this afternoon, down at Barwon Heads, there is a good joint down there and then try to chill out.”
25-year-old New South Welshman Dimitrios Papadatos was another standout in the morning session, he was one of four players to equal the Beach Course record with 8-under 64.
It was a strong return to form from the 2014 New Zealand Open winner who admittedly struggled with his conditional status on the European Tour last year.
“I was working hard, but when you go over there and see the guys that are the next level, it was like `I’ve got nothing’ and it was just embarrassing standing next to them,” he said.
“It’s about attitude. I’ve been working with a guy who does neuro feedback. I just started with him before the (2016) Aussie Open, which was my first good result.
“He’s been helping me out a bit with my mental side. I don’t really get down, I get a bit of a hot head sometimes and lose focus very easy from doing that.
“Just coming up to some tournaments and not switching on and giving myself a free go. I just rock up and go through the motions and play bad and say `what happened’.
“When I’m playing well I can definitely get it going, but I just needed to get that consistency.
“I’ve done it about half a dozen times. I’ve played good in some big events so hopefully I can start getting a bit of momentum now and keep it going."
Playing in the afternoon field, David McKenzie joined Papadatos in second place after a red hot putting display sent him racing up the leaderboard.
The veteran need only a remarkable 20 putts on his way to firing 9-under 63 on the Creek Course to be 12-under the card heading into the weekend.
"The funny thing is on about the 12th I though if I can even two-putt in from here I've only had 26 putts which is a pretty good day!" McKenzie joked.
"That's probably my best putting round since I had to get rid of the belly putter."
He said he wasn't expecting to perform so well on a course that hasn't been kind to him in the past and is pleasantly surprised to finish in a tie for second after two rounds.
"It's totally different to where I'd expect I'd be because I haven't payed very well here at any point, I think I've only made two cuts since they started playing here.
"This is not a happy hunting ground for me so hopefully it'll be a little bit better this week."
Rounding out the top-5 after the morning round are Adam Bland and Deyen Lawson on 10-under the card.
The second round cut at the Oates Vic Open was made at 3-under the card with blank Professionals and blank amateurs making the weekend rounds.
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