Guyatt leads at Kingston Heath

37 year old Queenslander Matthew Guyatt has the lead at the Talisker Masters at Kingston Heath after his opening round of 65 left him two ahead of the chasing pack.

Guyatt, the current NSW PGA Champion, birdied three of his last four holes to emerge from the group chasing morning leader, Adam Scott (67), to take the lead and head the pre tournament favourites Scott, and Ian Poulter along with New Zealander Mike Hendry as the tournament enters its second day.

Scott played early in the day while for Guyatt and Hendry they faced the afternoon conditions although, to be fair, there was little difference between the two. The scoring conditions throughout the day were outstanding with only the gentlest of breezes and Kingston Heath's design integrity protecting her from onslaught.

As it was, more than 30 players would break par on day one although as has often been seen on sandbelt golf courses it will take only a small change in conditions for this high quality layout to change its face.

Guyatt, who is just two weeks away from attending the Final Stage of the Japan Tour School in an endeavour to regain the status he enjoyed on that Tour in 2011, won the NSW PGA Championship with a final round of 62 at the Wollongong Golf Club late in 2011.

After an early career battling away on the PGA Tour of Australasia, Guyatt gave the game away for a few years but in 2005 his love for the game brought him back , not as a player initially but as a trainee professional at the Indooroopilly Golf Club in Brisbane.

After completing his traineeship Guyatt was forging a promising career as a coach when a chance meeting at a Pro-Am on the Gold Coast turned his life around. One of his amateur playing partners that day was so impressed with Guyatt's game and his manner that he offered to fund his return to the game as a player.

Guyatt repaid the benefactor in kind by making it through the various stages of the Japan Tour School in 2010 and had his card to play in 2011. It did not work out well, Guyatt losing his status but on his return to Australia he won the NSW PGA Championship reflecting the benefit he had gained from a year playing tournament golf.

Guyatt has readied himself for his assault on the Japan Tour once again by playing the occasional OneAsia Tour event and a few PGA Tour of Australasia Tour events in 2013. He has been helped in this quest by the inclusion on his team of Gold Coast based golf coach Kevin Healey.

Healey has been through a difficult time over the past eighteen months, his wife Jillian contracting breast cancer and staging a brave battle against the insidious disease.

Guyatt was emotional when asked as to how he felt about the impact his effort today would have on Healey. "That's not really a nice question, when I'm going to probably cry now," said the leader.

"He's been through thick and thin with his wife and the health issues that they're having. To be honest, he's an amazing man and she is an amazing woman. Rika Batibasaga played well this morning and he's one of Kev's students also.

"Look, we only hope for the best for Jill at the end of the day and for Kev, and there's not much more we can do, but playing well certainly helps him feel a little better about things. Like any coach who's got a stable, he's got some guys up and some guys down. It's certainly nice to play well for him, but I'd much rather have his wife cured of cancer than play well today."

Scott appeared to be heading for control of the tournament when he finished his morning round at 5 under par 66. He might still have it.

"I played good today, it's a good start, but you need four good days to win," said the Queenslander. "It's a good start, I didn't take advantage of my good play on my first 9 holes but I certainly did on my back 9, so that made up for it. That was a good score out there for me today, not really low, but very happy with my start. It's going to keep me in touch with everybody I think, even if someone does go low, at least I'm on my way there."

"Look, today was a perfect day. The course's defences were down today, there was no wind and the greens were soft and not very fast. Realistically, I felt 9 or 10 (under) was possible for the way I played today if everything went my way. I'm not complaining, it's a good start."

Poulter holed a 15 foot putt at the last to remind all if they indeed needed it that the defence of his title was a real possibility.

"Yeah, I don't think I've seen afternoon conditions like we've had today," said the Englishman. "It was perfect. I think you had to take advantage of the weather, certainly this afternoon the greens were a little softer today than they were yesterday, I think they put a bit of moisture in them.

"They were definitely firm in the Pro-Am, but a little bit overcast today and you could be a little more aggressive than what you obviously could yesterday. So I think there's some decent scores on the course, and certainly when the weather is like this, and there's not much wind, then you have to try and take advantage."

Also at 5 under and in a share of second is the money list leader of the PGA Tour of Australasia in 2012 Mike Hendry who finished 4th at the recent Perth International and earlier in the year won the New Zealand PGA Championship.

Like the leader, Guyatt, Hendry will be heading for the Final Stage of Qualifying for the Japan Golf Tour and is in just the right shape to head to Japan with yet another good finish to his credit.

At the completion of day one 34 players broke par on this outstanding layout but look to Kingston Heath having some sort of revenge over the next few days.

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Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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