By Neal Maidment
A handful of WA players are within touching distance of the lead at the Australian Junior Amateur, which commenced today at Tasmania Golf Club near Hobart.
Unexpectedly benign conditions followed on from a practice round played in icy winds, meaning Round 1 of the 72-hole stroke play championship was like playing the course for the first time for the WA contingent.
Despite the relative calm, tricky pin positions helped prevent a glut of low scores, with only 16 of the 156 players in the boys’ and girls’ fields breaking par.
One of those players was Joondalup’s George Barclay (pictured above), who fired a two-under-par 70 in a round that contained four birdies. Barclay sits just one behind a group of six players tied for 1st position.
“I didn’t do a lot wrong today,” Barclay told GolfWA. “I putted and chipped well and it’s a good start considering how different the conditions were today compared to our practice round.”
All five of GolfWA’s official representatives in the boys’ event are within touching distance of the lead, with Joe Buttress (WAGC) the best of the rest at level par for his round in T14th. Royal Fremantle’s Rocco Cucchiara, Ollie Marsh (Wanneroo) and Josiah Edwards (Gosnells) are at +1, +2 and +3 respectively, and can all feel like they are just one good round away from really being in the mix.
WAGC member Braedon Law also made the trip to Tasmania and opened his account with a six-over-par round of 78.
In the girls’ event, Gosnells’ Jorja Hinson-Tolchard and Lakelands’ Kortni Houston are WA’s highest-placed players after opening round of 76 (three over par) saw them finish the day in a tie for 12th, seven shots off the lead. Celine Chen (Joondalup) and Amanda Gan (Mount Lawley) are a further one and two shots adrift.
Thirteen-year-old Houston, who produced some stunning golf on her way to the semi-finals of the WA Amateur Championships in March, could have been even better placed but for a double bogey 5 at the closing hole.
Hinson-Tolchard, who will captain the WA team in next week’s Australian Interstate teams Matches, admitted that the going was tough due to the challenging course set-up. “It was a difficult putting day,” she said. “The pins were in some really tough positions and the greens were pretty quick.”
Several other WA players struggled to find their rhythm, with Erina Tan, Alice Tonts, Isabella Leniartek, Aprileen Sirait (all Mount Lawley) and Aiyana Morris (Capel) all in need of strong second rounds to stay in contention to make the 54-hole cut.