Royal Perth Superintendent and elite amateur Michael Dennis has blown the field away after the opening round of the WA Amateur at Royal Perth Golf Club.
Dennis’ 6-under round of 66 was without peer, sitting three strokes ahead of Hartfield’s Calum Juniper at the end of the day’s play.
It was a long day for Dennis, who faced an early wake up call to prepare the Royal Perth greens for the day’s play. The result was a lightning fast track, something that even took Dennis by surprise, making the turn at 1-under par but finishing in with a 31 on the back nine to finish at 6-under.
“The greens were very fast. Even faster than I’d given them respect for at the start.” said Dennis. “They were lightning, probably about 13.5 feet on the Stimpmeter.”
Despite the added advantage of playing a course he knows back to front, Dennis admitted to feeling the pressure to perform in a title that has eluded him in a long amateur career in Western Australia.
“Playing at home does help I suppose, but there’s more pressure on you as well isn’t it? You should do well since it’s your home course and everybody expects you to do well, so you’re fighting anxiety the whole day. So I’ll take a 66!”
Tomorrow’s final day will set the seeds for the WA Amateur Matchplay, with the Strokeplay Medal up for grabs tomorrow. Dennis may already have a hand on the cup, holding a five shot lead over last year’s finalist Min Woo Lee of Royal Fremantle and Hartfield’s Paul Chappell.
“I’d like to win the medal, I’ve never won but come runner-up 6 or 7 times, but never won, so it would be nice.”
Australia’s Number 2 golfer, Curtis Luck is sitting T4 with an even round of 72, while Number 3 Jarryd Felton has some gound to make up to qualify for the final 16, sitting T22 at 4-over.
In the Women’s event, early favourite Hannah Green holds a single shot lead over WA State teammate Hayley Bettencourt. Green recovered from a harrowing triple bogey on the first hole, to go four under for the reminder of the round to finish 1-under par.
“Today was good.” said Green after the round. “I made a lot of putts out there and hit it close. It’s what I’ve got to do this week so I’m happy. The greens were good I thought, and played really true.”
Hayley Bettencourt of Mandurah is a shot back of Green. Bettencourt played well on the tight Royal Perth layout, however felt the putting let her down from making a big score on the opening day.
“Putting is not the best for me at the moment. But I’m hitting it consistent and making up and downs when I have to, and it’s just about being happy on the golf course. So I’m feeling pretty good!”
Bettencourt has enlisted the help of LPGA Pro Kristie Smith for this year’s Amateur. Smith has caddied for Bettencourt in the past, and was more than happy to share the knowledge of her home track to help Bettencourt gain an edge.
“Kristie’s helped me out heaps over the years. Fitness training and helping me out mentally so she’s just a good person to have around. She texted me saying ‘It’s my home track, so I’m caddying for you!’ so I said no problems!”