Third year PGA Trainee Ben Stowe has recorded 3-under 69 around Ballarat Golf Club to hold the lead in the National Futures Championship.

Stowe battled the gusty conditions to lead the field of 76 Trainee Professionals by one stroke heading into round two.

“I’m very happy, I didn’t really do too much wrong apart from a couple of loose shots at the start but my short game saved me all the way through,” said Stowe who is in the final year of his Traineeship at Royal Sydney Golf Club.

“You can say it after every round but I did leave a lot of putts out there, but the short game really saved me, I made some really good up and downs.”

Stowe has seen improvements in his short game following some work with his coach Michael Smyth, a PGA Professional at Royal Sydney Golf Club.

“I’ve been working really hard with my coach Michael especially with my swing over the last three weeks or so leading up to this event.

“I changed my wedges out at the start of this week for a little bit more bounce to help me with the softer conditions around here which definitely helped me a lot.”

It’s Stowe’s second appearance at the world’s richest PGA Trainee event after missing last year’s tournament due to injury.

“The first year I played it was reduced to 54 holes so I’m looking forward to playing the full week this year. I’ve got good memories of this course from that first year and my game has improved a bit since then,” added Stowe.

“I haven’t won a four round tournament yet and that’s been the goal since I started my Traineeship, so I’ve got myself off to a nice start this week which is good.

“It’s a great tournament with great prizemoney on offer and obviously an exemption into the Australian PGA Championship which would be awesome. It’d be a really nice way to wrap up my Traineeship.”

In second place at 2-under card is defending champion Frazer Droop, second year PGA Trainee at Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort.

“It was pretty tough, the wind got pretty gusty in a few spots. I had 1-over on my front-9 and just tried to hang in there and see what I could do on the back-9 and shot 3-under which was really solid,” said Droop.

“I wasn’t feeling great today but I’ll take 2-under for sure.”

With just one morning field taking to the Ballarat Golf Course each round this week, there’s no ‘luck of the draw’ to rely on with the entire field playing in the same conditions.

“It’s pretty even for everyone which isn’t a bad thing at all, some tournaments can play really differently with afternoon and morning fields but everyone is off at the same time here which will be really good,” added Droop.

Tim Purtill, second year PGA Trainee from Wodonga Golf Club and Mitchell Gannon, first year PGA Trainee from Kogarah Golf Club share third place at 1-under the card rounding out the top-4.

For the full leaderboard visit pga.org.au.

Ben Stowe will tee off tomorrow at Ballarat Golf Club at 8:18am AEDT, Frazer Droop begins at 8:34am AEDT.

For full tee times, visit pga.org.au.