Eclectic mix tops NSW PGA leaderboard

Amateur Jake Higginbottom is tied with professionals Andre Stolz and Martin Dive at the conclusion of the first round of the NSW PGA Championship held at Wollongong Golf Club.

After the opening day's pay was washed out yesterday, perfect golf conditions resulted in the trio of varying degrees of experience carding an 8-under par round of 62.

Being clubhouse leader in a professional tournament is a familiar feeling for Stolz who has nine career victories including two this year and one on the US TOUR in 2004 yet for his younger counterparts it is a new experience.

Dive is yet to achieve his first professional victory while for Higginbottom winning as an amateur is a regular occurrence leading in a professional tournament is a new experience he is comfortable with.

"It is a bit harder to lead a professional tournament because I know I have to go low again for the next two rounds if I want to stay in contention," said Higginbottom

"But I don't feel too much different or too much pressure compared to in my amateur tournaments, we will see what happens tomorrow."

Perhaps putting Higginbottom at ease is his familiarity with co-leader Andre Stolz, who's son Zac is a team mate of Higginbottom's in the NSW State Team.

"I have played with Andre a couple of times "“ he is definitely a great player and a good role model."

"To know I am in the mix with someone like Andre who is one of the Australia's best golfers is really encouraging."

His aim for the rest of the tournament is two more solid rounds and to be in the leading group come Sunday but in the end it's all about experience for Higginbottom.

"Playing with the Professionals is great experience for me, especially since this is where I plan on my career heading.

"I have learnt a lot so far; from how the professionals carry themselves to how they handle different situations."

While experience for Higginbottom is a win, Stolz and Dive will be out to stamp their mark on the NSW PGA Championship and claim the title for their own.

Also in contention are Kurt Barnes, Rohan Blizard and Peter Wilson at 7-under.

A further shot back at 6-under are Andrew Evans, Brendan Smith, Craig Hancock, Josh Younger, James McLean and Neil Sarkies.

Sydney Roosters Captain Braith Anasta playing in the NSW PGA Championship as an amateur had a tough day on course shooting 6-over in his first outing in a professional tournament.

The NSW PGA Championship will continue at Wollongong Golf Club tomorrow from 7.00am.

Entry is FREE for all spectators.

In addition to receiving their share of the $100,000 prize money, the tournament winner will also earn for themselves a spot the county's biggest events including the Emirates Australian Open, Australian PGA Championship presented by Coca-Cola, BMW NZ Open hosted by Christchurch and JBWere Masters.

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