James Nitties feared the worst at 13th Beach.
He’d been just one under par through four holes of the ISPS Handa Vic Open, having missed short birdie opportunities on three successive holes after an opening birdie on the Beach Course’s 10th hole.
Then, from the middle of the fairway with a relatively short second to the par-four 14th, the New South Welshman tugged his approach left, flubbed his third into a bunker, took a nasty double-bogey and found himself – perhaps unjustly – at one over and in danger of being left behind on a day of uber-low scoring.
But rather than grumble and fret about what might have been, Nitties turned it around.
In a hurry.
In fact, he responded in a way that only three other people in the history of tournament golf have.
Nine birdies. In a row.
After three, the other players knew something was up.
After five, they daren’t even mention it audibly to Nitties.
After seven, even his caddie Steven Potts was too nervous to pipe up, lest he wear the blame for ending the magic.
By the fifth hole, Nitties had narrowed the gap to great mate Nick Flanagan from 11 shots two hours earlier to just two after his ninth consecutive one-putt.
He was inside 4m on the sixth for his shot at glory – the elusive 10th successive birdie that would have separated him from Mark Calcavecchia, Amy Yang and Bronte Law as those who’ve had nine on the bounce.
But alas, the putt slipped narrowly by and he took a quarter share of the mark.
“I don't hold any other world records that I know of, so to be a part of one is pretty cool,” Nitties said.
“I had a good chance for that 10th birdie, but I didn't want to break it. It's such a long-standing record.
“I definitely have the world record for best bounce-back stat because if I holed the nine birdies and I preceded it with a double-bogey.
“I was a little peeved that I made double from the middle of the fairway and followed up with a couple birdies and then rattled off about seven or eight more is pretty special.”
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