Wollongong amateur Travis Smyth (pic) continued on his purple patch of form from the recent United States Amateur Championship, shooting a seven-under par round of 64 to take the first round lead at the Northern Territory PGA Championship – presented by Cazalys Palmerston.
Playing in the more difficult afternoon conditions, Smyth put on a flawless display at Palmerston firing seven birdies to tie the course record and set up a two-stroke lead over Max McCardle and Neven Basic, who were paired together in the morning.
“Golf is a great game when you are playing well, I am enjoying it at the moment,” said Smyth.
Four players – Deyen Lawson, Josh Younger, Darren Beck and Andrew Schoneville – are grouped together at four-under, while defending champion Jordan Zunic is well positioned at three-under alongside American John O’Toole.
22-year old Smyth spent a lot of the summer in the Northern Hemisphere playing some of the world’s most prestigious amateur events, culminating in a close loss in an epic quarter-final match against eventual champion Doc Redman at the U.S. Amateur at the Riviera Country Club.
Smyth had only been back in the country a week before heading north to accept an invitation to make his first trip to Darwin.
Clearly, he is far from being overawed playing in this company, many of whom were in the field when Smyth finished runner-up to then-amateur Curtis Luck in last year’s WA Open.
“I have played a number of pro events, I am getting more and more comfortable with it and it’s good fun.” Smyth said.
“I would really like to try and step it up against these guys.”
Smyth will look to build on his lead when he heads out at 8.20am tomorrow morning while his nearest challengers, Basic and McCardle, will face the more difficult afternoon conditions.
The Territory’s Anthony Quayle will also tee off early tomorrow looking to improve on his position after a one-over 72 on Thursday, tied for 49th place.