A little over 12 months after claiming the state junior crown, Charlestown's Jye Pickin "couldn't have asked for much more" from his opening round at the NSW Open in Sydney on Thursday.
Pickin, who recently returned to Australia after his US college enrollment was put back until January, sunk five birdies and an eagle to be six under (66) and three strokes behind overnight leader Josh Younger (63).
The 19-year-old, who sits outright seventh, said that performance at Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club fills him with confidence for the rest of the 2019 tournament.
"I couldn't have asked for much more," Pickin told the Newcastle Herald.
"You take this kind of thing and just try your best to keep it going."
Pickin's eagle on the par-four 12th, his third hole of the round, was the amateur's highlight.
"It was a short par four and my three wood bumped up onto the green," he said.
"I knocked in the putt from about 15 feet."
Pickin had identified the early part of the Luddenham course as important to score well and he executed to be six under after 12 holes.
"I started off 10 and at Twin Creeks you can make birdies from 10 to 15 so it was great to make the most of those opportunities," he said.
A save for par on the first was a "turning point".
"I left myself a 20 foot putt, but I was lucky enough to make it and keep the momentum," he said.
Pickin was one of several Hunter golfers to shoot sub-par rounds.
Newly turned professional Blake Windred (68) is tied ninth at four under while Andrew Dodt (69) is one stroke further back in a share of 17th. Callan O'Reilly, Jake Higginbottom and Aaron Townsend (70) are tied 53rd at minus two.
In the plus figures are Corey Lamb, Nathan Green (73), James Nitties (75), Nick Flanagan (77) and 14-year-old debutant Jake Riley (79), who qualified for the NSW Open on Monday.