Stunning conditions greeted all golfers during day one of the Aglime Sand Greens Championship of Western Australia.
Clear skies and light winds made for perfect playing conditions early on and Brookton GC member Chris Rawes capitalised by birdieing his opening two holes.
Six pars followed before another birdie on his 9th hole of the day had Rawes making the turn at 3-under. Two dropped shots on the back nine brought Rawes back to the field and he had to settle with an opening round of 1-under (71).
Carl Naake got off to a slow start with three bogeys across his opening nine holes. However, the Goldfields member caught fire on the back nine and carded four birdies before signing for a 1-under round, equalling Rawes.
Naake and Rawes were soon joined atop the leaderboard by 2015 Champion Daniel Negus and Royal Fremantle’s Brendon Allanby.
Two birdies and two bogeys on the front nine had Negus turning at even-par before a blemish-free back nine featuring a birdie on the fourth saw the Hartfield member card an opening round of 1-under (71).
Playing alongside Negus, Allanby had a rollercoaster round of five birdies and four bogeys which netted him an opening round of 71 that placed him in a four-way tie for the lead.
Manjimup member and perennial ‘Sands’ contender Evan Sewell got his championship off to a rough start with an opening bogey.
Things improved dramatically from there and the sparkling ‘boy in blue’ hit three birdies in his last eight holes to finish at 2-under (70), one shot ahead of the four-way tie for second.
Last year’s winner, Ryan Peake battled to hold the fairway early on and the long-hitting left-hander found himself a couple over through nine holes.
Peake got things moving on his back nine with two birdies that saw him draw back level with the card. He is now well poised just two shots back of the lead and will be looking to claim back-to-back titles later tomorrow.
The highlight of the opening round was provided by Katanning’s Philip Russell thanks to an ace on the 17th.
“I was checking my playing partners bag to see what he was hitting and he had an 8 iron and I had a 5-hybrid. He told me it’s not what club you hit but what happens at the other end and then I holed it,” Russell said after the round.