Queenslander Daniel Nisbet lived up to pre-tournament hype as the leading money winner in the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia season by taking advantage of morning conditions to shoot a bogey-free round of seven-under 64 to take a one-stroke lead into Friday’s second round.
Nisbet, who has missed the cut in each of his first two starts at Palmerston, turned the tables on the golf course by taking an attacking mindset from the beginning.
“I was a bit aggressive out there and it paid off. I was hitting my driver really well so I am happy,” said Nisbet,
“I was saying in the lead up that I have never played that well here and I have missed the cut. It was nice to get the monkey off my back and shoot a low one. Hopefully I can do it another three times."
Photo: PGA of Australia.
The New Zealand Open champion won’t have it all his own way as fellow Queenslander Kade McBride played a wonderful round in the afternoon to close the gap late in the day with a six-under 65.
A bunched leaderboard sees many of the favoured players within striking distance, including Michael Sim and Damien Jordan among six players who shot five-under 66s, with defending champion Travis Smyth and Jack Wilson among a similar group sitting three strokes from the lead after four-under 67s.
Smyth’s defence got off to a good start despite the New South Welshman only hitting three fairways all day but saved his round repeatedly with solid work on and around the greens, much as he did in his record-setting performance last year.
"The trees really overhang on this course so I was playing a lot of punch, low fade and low draw shots.” Smyth said.
“I was very happy with how I scrambled because it could have been a lot of bogeys out here but I only made one.”
Kevin Marques was in line to be the best of the Territorians after completing a fine three-under par 68 in the afternoon, however was devastated to learn on the completion of his round that he had been disqualified for what he had innocently thought was the permissible use a swing training aid during the round.
Had Marques only used the aid once, he would have incurred a two-stroke penalty but multiple use is subject to disqualification.
Aaron Pike salvaged a round that was quickly going south on his back nine with consecutive birdies over the closing holes to post a two-over par round of 73 which has him sitting alongside Alice Springs amateur, Alex Brennan.