Higginbottom leads, Smith close at Handa

Jake Higginbottom has fired an opening 7-under-par, 65, at the Handa Junior Masters, being contested at The Vines Resort and Country Club in Perth.

Higginbotton, a member of the NSW Junior State team, enjoys a three stroke lead over local, Ryan Peake and New Zealand's Tom Cardno, who respectively fired rounds of 4-under-par, 68.

Cameron Smith, runner-up to Daniel Nisbet a fortnight ago at the Queensland Men's Amateur Championship is comfortably positioned, four behind Higginbottom after opening with a 3-under-par, 69.

A field of approximately 100 competitors will compete over 72 holes for the Handa Junior Masters respective titles. The field consists of approximately 60 junior boys and 40 junior girls.

The Handa Junior Masters is an invitation event with each State Association or Junior Foundation nominating their top 4 boys and 4 girls to compete and official invitations were then issued by the tournament organisers.

The tournament also includes an international flair, with players being invited from Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, Taiwan, South Africa, New Zealand and India.

Higginbottom, 15, hails from the Newcastle region which has seen the likes of Nick Flanagan, Nathan Green and James Nitties, all of whom have made it to the US PGA Tour. Last year Higginbottom qualified for the NSW Open at The Vintage in the Hunter Valley just north of Newcastle, with locals claiming that he was the youngest ever qualifier to play the event.

Higginbottom has dominated the Jack Newton Junior Golf Foundation events over the past two years, and fired a career low round to date of a 64, at Waratah Golf Club. At the time he was the tender age of 13.

Cameron Smith should not be discounted at this tournament following stellar efforts at the Queensland Amateur Championship and whilst his overall performance at last week's Keperra bowl was a little disappointing finishing a tie for 33rd after opening with a 66, Smith's games continues to evolve.

Jarryd Felton, Anthony Houston and Matthew Stieger are presently in a tie for 5th, following opening rounds of 2-under-par, 70.

Queensland's, Jacki Marshall, leads the girls after an opening, 70, to have a stroke lead over Jayde Panos.

In the past four years, the winning boy has received an invitation to play in the Masters Tournament in Melbourne, whilst the winning girl has also received the same privilege to play in the ANZ Ladies Masters.

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