JAKE Higginbottom hopes that “something has clicked” after he produced a blemish-free 67 to be one off the pace heading into the second round of the $400,000 NSW Open at Twin Creeks.
Higginbottom made the most of near perfect morning conditions on Thursday to peel off five birdies in his best start to a tournament this season.
West Australian Jarryd Felton and Victorian teenager Cameron John set the pace with a six-under 66.
Higgingbottom was one of nine players alongside Aaron Pike, Blake Proverbs, Jordan Mullaney, Ashley Hall, Nevin Basic, Jake McLeod, Matt Millar and Scott Arnold to sign off on a 67.
”I haven’t been starting well in tournaments, so it was nice to get off to a good start here,” Higginbottom said. “Hopefully, something has clicked and I can keep it going for the rest of the week. There is a lot of golf to play and I just have to keep doing what I’m doing. It might take 20-under to win it at the end of the week if the wind doesn’t get up.”
Starting on the front nine, Higginbottom picked up birdies at the third and sixth holes to turn two-under.
He opened the back nine with a par and then reeled off three straight birdies.
“It was pretty solid. I had no bogeys which was nice,” the 25-year-old from Charlestown said. “The greens are rolling beautifully so there is a good chance to hole a lot of putts if you can read them correctly. I holed a few 10-15 footers and a tap-in on the par-five. I putted really nice, had a few lip outs, but we all leave a few out there most days. If you drive it well - it’s pretty wide - you have a lot of wedges in your hand.”
Aberdeen-born Dylan Perry, playing his first tournament as professional,former US PGA Tour-winner Nathan Green and 2009 winner Leigh McKechnie were the next best of the Hunter contingent in a tie for 19th at three-under. McKechnie birdied three of the final four holes.
Amateur Blake Windred, who finished tied for fourth at Twin Creeks last year, was at one-under alongside James Nitties.
Felton, who carded seven birdies, finished sixth at the tournament last year and was pleased to go low early.
“I don’t normally make that many birdies, but I made them today so hopefully I can keep it going over the next three days,” said Felton. “I had four birdies in a row. I birdied probably one of the hardest holes today, the par-3 14th and then got on a bit of a run.
“I was feeling really confident through that stretch and then lipped out on the last so it could have been even better but I am very happy with 6-under.”