David Micheluzzi (Golf Australia photo)
MELBOURNE, Australia (Jan. 15, 2019) – David Micheluzzi
admitted he had unfinished business after shooting the lowest ever amateur round at Spring Valley to light up the men’s Australian Amateur Championship.
Micheluzzi, who is No. 8 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and thus the highest ranked player in the field, flexed his muscle on one of his “home” courses, carding an 8-under 63 to lead by two after a day of quality golf in searing Melbourne heat.
The Victorian, who had a memorable 2018 which included finishing fifth and joint low amateur at the Australian Open in November, was runner-up in this event at Perth’s Lake Karrinyup last year.
And, ominously for the chasing pack, Micheluzzi said today’s masterpiece was “the most comfortable I’ve been on a course in a long time.”
“We train here a lot, so I know the course pretty well … I got a few putts to drop and it totaled up to 63. I’m pretty happy with that,” he said. “I’ve got a bit of fire in the belly from last year, I just want to get one more place and then I’ll be very happy.”
The Australian Eisenhower Trophy representative was stunning at times on Tuesday, recording five birdies in a six-hole stretch from the seventh without looking out of third gear.
He tried to press further and fly the corner on the tight dog-leg par-4 13th only to clip the right trees and while his pitch out still found the front edge of the deep green, the resultant three-putt to a back right pin was his only blemish.
Micheluzzi’s lead in the race to be medalist after tomorrow’s final stroke-play qualifying round is two from some lesser known, yet very promising names.
Andre Lautee, who usurped Micheluzzi as Victorian Amateur champion in December, continued his outstanding form to card a fine 65 alongside Victorian-based South Australian Travis Miller, all at Spring Valley.
They were joined by Queenslander Lochie Coleborn, playing at Woodlands, who defied a nervous build-up to the national championship to card a nifty 66.
Lautee began with four straight pars off the 10th tee, but kick-started his round with back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th holes.
“I was pretty solid, it was a good day,” said Lautee, a member at nearby Kingston Heath. “I’m not making too many mistakes out there, turning 75s into 72s … it’s really helped me.”
Miller, a former Kooyonga junior now based in Melbourne, was rolling along trying not to think of his imposing score when he pulled his tee shot into a tough bunker on the long par-3 14th.
But one moment of magic later, the 21-year-old who’s coached by former Australian Masters champ Craig Spence, canned the trap shot for a sixth birdie on a bogey-free card.
“It was great – enough to keep me under control, especially towards the end and just starting to get a little bit nervous keeping the round together,” Miller said.
Coleborn was the best of the morning field at Woodlands, his 6-under 66 coming as somewhat of a surprise.
“It’s definitely not (what I expected). I didn’t hit it too well in my practice rounds or even on the range this morning, but something just clicked and everything went my way,” Coleborn said. “(But) it’s pretty similar to my home club (Mt Coolum on the Sunshine Coast), so I feel very comfortable.”
In unusually humid conditions, New Zealand’s world No. 20 Daniel Hillier carved out a fine 5-under 66 at Spring Valley, later matched by German David Rauch with a 66 at Woodlands.
Only a couple of fancies found themselves in early strife, most notably last year’s medalists Connor McKinney and Darcy Boyd, who both fired four rounds at Spring Valley and Woodlands, respectively.
The top 64 men will advance to the knockout phase after tomorrow’s second round.
ABOUT THE Australian Men's Amateur
The Australian Men's and Women's
Championships are Australia's oldest
Golf Championships, with both having
played since 1894. Long held as a match play event,
in 2021 the format changed to 72 holes
of stroke play.
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