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Amateur Smyth jumps to NT PGA lead

(Photo: Bruce Young)
Promising NSW amateur Travis Smyth has outplayed his professional counterparts to grab the first round lead at the Northern Territory PGA Championship in Darwin.

Smyth, a quarter finalist at the recent US Amateur in Los Angeles, signed for a blemish-free round of 7-under 64 at Palmerston Golf Club to lead by two from Neven Basic and Max McCardle.

With McCardle and Basic both off in the morning wave, Smyth’s afternoon tee time assured he knew what was required long before he reached the first tee and he answered the challenge in impressive fashion.

Hitting off the 10th, Smyth picked up shots at the 14th, 15th and 17th to get within range then joined the lead with back-to-back gains at the first and second.

Unfazed by his lofty position on the leaderboard, however, Smyth increased the advantage on the way to the clubhouse with birdies at both the 5th and 7th to stamp his authority on the event.

His nearest pursuers, Basic and McCardle, were paired together in the morning wave and dragged each other along to a score that looked as though it would stand up at the end of the day.

McCardle’s round was a clinical affair featuring five birdies against no bogeys but his playing partner’s score could hardly have been compiled more differently.

A bogey and two birdies on the outward nine could best be described as pedestrian for Basic but things switched on the inward journey.

Four birdies and an eagle were offset by two bogeys, the rollercoaster play adding up to 66 and a share of second.

Four players share fourth at 4-under, Deyen Lawson, Josh Younger, Andrew Schonewille and Darren Beck all signing for 67, while three players are a stroke further back and T8.

"It was nice to get out on a pristine morning and get a score away," a pleased McCardle said after his round.

"There is a bit of wind up now, but it was pretty calm early. It was nice and warm; it has been pretty cold in Adelaide so it’s nice to get up in the warmth.”

A regular visitor to the Top End courtesy of a family connection, McCardle says his local knowledge was an advantage on day one.

"I have some relatives here on my fiancés side; we spend a fair bit of time up here through the year, about two or three weeks a year," he said.

"I am quite familiar with the course; I have played here quite a lot over the past six years. I have played it in all different conditions and have different strategies to try and attack the course.

"I just plodded my way around, hit some fairways and greens, didn’t do too much wrong. I hit it real close on 12, within a couple of inches, so that was probably the highlight."

Defending champion Jordan Zunic shot an adventurous 3-under 68 to share 8th, mixing six birdies with three bogeys.


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