Editors Note: Stories by Golf Australia's Mark Hayes
ULVERSTONE, AUS (April 14, 2016)--Lachlan Barker leads the boys’ Australian Junior Championship by two shots at the halfway point after a spectacular closing salvo.
The South Australian fired an entertaining 68 today on a tight Ulverstone course that again took its toll on the talented field, with only seven players better than par after 36-holes.
That Barker is six-under, then, is testament to the Glenelg ace’s composure, especially after he his round threatened to unravel today with a triple-bogey.
“I birdied the first (to get to three under after an opening 70) and I thought things were going along pretty well until I stood on the fourth tee,” Barker said.
“Then I blocked a drive and lost it, then put my (third) right and made an easy triple. It was a real test mentally because I didn’t hit it too well the next few holes, but I managed to keep it together for a few holes, which was important. Then I chipped in for birdie on 11 and it really got me going.”
That might be the understatement of the week on a course that’s particularly penal to wayward drives.
The 17-year-old birdied 12 to get back to square for his round, but then managed a finish he’s only ever dreamt of – birdie-eagle-birdie to roar past Jay McKenzie and Henry Spring and nab the lead.
“I’ve been going all right and closed with bogey-bogey-double before, but never anything like that,” Barker joked. "It was great (way to finish) especially when it’s not an easy course.”
McKenzie, based at Ballina on the New South Wales north coast, also fired a superb round – the day’s best 67 – despite dropping three shots in two holes on the 14th and 15th.
The 17-year-old, who recently won the Junior Masters at Bathurst by 10 strokes, used his accurate driving to full advantage.
McKenzie, the nephew of former LET professional Geraldine Brown, actually blurs state lines as he prepares for next week’s Junior Interstate Series with Gold Coast coach Richard Woodhouse his mentor.
Spring is one of three New Zealanders under par, with Daniel Hillier handy at -3, while overnight leader Markopolo Fullepp was a little more wayward today in shooting 74 to sit -2.
Two more young New South Welshmen comprise the other pair in red numbers with Avondale’s Jye Pickin -3 and Cromer’s Corey Rae -1.
Several pre-tournament fancies are grouped nearby with Victorian Cameron John (+2) West Australian pair Min Woo Lee (+3) and Fred Lee (+4) and top ranked Charlie Pilon +5 after a flat 76.
The cut was made at +10, leaving Queensland prodigy and national squad member Louis Dobbelaar (+11) among the casualties who won’t play the final 36 holes tomorrow.
GIRLS ROUND TWO RECAP
Queensland flexed its impressive muscle today as its girls marched to the top of the Australian Junior Championship leaderboard in Tasmania.
Golf Australia national squad member Becky Kay leads at -12 after a second consecutive round of six-under-par 68 at Devonport Golf Club.
But it wasn’t enough to break her own teammates, let alone the field, with four of the top seven spots held down by Queenslanders with 36-holes to play tomorrow.
The day’s best round belonged to Kay’s fellow Gold Coaster Karis Davidson, who fired a personal best score to par, a seven-under 67.
Davidson leapfrogged four places to sit one shot behind Kay and New Zealand’s Momoka Kobori at 11-under.
Toowomba’s Darcy Habgood impressed again with a 70 to sit at nine under, while Surfers Paradise youngster Lisa Edgar fired a superb 69 to jump to outright seventh at seven under.
Also firmly in the mix at nine under are Wollongong’s Stef Hall (71) and Mandurah’s Kathryn Norris (70) after another day of low scoring.
“There were some good scores again today, so it’s nice to shoot one (myself),” said Davidson, who was recently confirmed alongside Hannah Green as a Karrie Webb Series scholarship winner.
Davidson said she “didn’t do anything special” despite canning eight birdies against just one bogey. "I was a bit unlucky with a few putts yesterday, but today they all seemed to go in, which was nice.”
Davidson, 17, based at Sanctuary Cove, said the feeling among the Queensland team was strong.
“Tony (coach Tony Meyer) was really happy with the scores and the way we played,” she said. I’m not sure if there’s a reason, just that we all practice hard and push each other along – we’re a good team.”
The field was cut to 60 with another Queenslander, Eloise Taylor, the final girl to advance at +12.The tournament wraps up tomorrow with 36-holes, again at Devonport.
View results for Australian Junior Championships