Alejandro Cañizares carded a stunning opening 63 to lead by two strokes after the first round of the ISPS Handa Vic Open.
The Spaniard made ten birdies on the Creek Course at 13th Beach Golf Links, carding four in his first five holes and also finishing with three in a row to reach nine under par.
The 37-year-old, who will play his second round tomorrow on the Beach Course, sits two shots ahead of the Australian quartet of Matthew Griffin, Jake McLeod, Travis Smyth and Justin Warren who each carded seven under par rounds of 65.
European Tour members Aaron Cockerill, Min Woo Lee and Robin Sciot-Siegrist are among those in a share of sixth place on six under par. Last year’s runner-up Brad Kennedy joins them on that number, while last year’s champion David Law opened his title defence with a four under par round of 68 on the Creek Course.
The ISPS Handa Vic Open sees men’s and women’s tournaments take place concurrently on the same golf courses at 13th Beach Golf Links for equal prize money. Competitors who played their first rounds on the Beach Course will play their second rounds on the Creek Course, and vice versa, with all the action taking place on the Beach Course over the weekend.
The 36-hole cut will reduce both tournaments to the top 60 and ties, with a further cut taking place after Saturday’s third round to the top 35 and ties from each competition for the final round.
In the women’s tournament South Korea’s Haeji Kang and Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom share the lead on eight under par. Former American college golf star Haley Moore, who is making her LPGA debut as a professional this week, shares third place on seven under par.
Alejandro Cañizares: “I played really nicely. The Creek is a little more accessible than the Beach – most of the par fives are reachable and I took advantage of that and I putted really well. I didn’t make many mistakes, and I hit the ball nicely with my irons.
“I didn’t have many expectations for this week because it’s a long way from home – you don’t know how you’re going to feel. But I was hitting the ball well and I’m working on the right things.
“With my category on the European Tour, you have to take advantage of the events you can play. I really like the golf courses here in Australia – the only problem is the jetlag, so I’m trying to beat that.”
Jake McLeod: “[A result here] helps with points on the Race to Dubai, but it’s the first tournament of the year for me. I’m just looking to dust off the cobwebs and see if I can make it until Sunday.
“I like the course. I know I can get out there and don’t have to think too much about it and just give it a rip and see how we go.”
Min Woo Lee: “[Jake McLeod] and I fed off each other and we holed some putts at the end. Jake played pretty solid all day and I just finished off really nice on the back nine. Early on I holed the first two putts for birdie. I kind of fell from there, but I regained a little bit of focus and the back nine was really special.”
Brad Kennedy: “It’s nice to come here and start the year really. I’ve just had six weeks off and picked the clubs up last Monday and tried to see what I could do. I guess the expectations of last year have gone and it’s all about trying to see what we can do for this year.”