Two star WA amateurs threatened to steal the show but it was New South Welshman Alex Edge who ended Round 1 in front at the Metal West Recycling Joondalup Resort Classic.
Players tested their games across the Lake and Quarry nines at Joondalup Country Club on Saturday but will play the Quarry Nine twice on Sunday in a shotgun start that will ensure a thrilling finale at one of Australian golf’s most distinct settings.
A round of six-under 66 will see Edge start the final round in the final group from the first hole with a one-stroke lead, paired with WA amateur Tom Addy (67), David Bransdon (67) and Ethan Andrews (69).
Edge went to school on Joondalup’s slick greens in Friday’s sponsor day and put his learnings into practice in a bogey-free round.
“The greens were very slick so you had to put it in the right positions. A bit more thinking about there to hopefully leave yourself more uphill putts than the sliders,” Edge said.
“I had to chip one from on the green today because it was diabolical if I’d had to putt it. It was nice to get that one up and down.”
Stellar iron play was a feature of Edge’s round, providing straightforward birdie opportunities at the Quarry Nine’s two par 3s, three and seven.
“I hit a couple of really nice shots on two of the par 3s; it makes life easy when you’ve got a couple of tap-ins because it’s a big-boy course out there,” Edge added.
“The Lake Course is supposed to be easier but if you’re off it can still catch you out a little bit.”
A strong easterly wind added to the challenge in Round 1, WA State representative and Joondalup member Celine Chen all too familiar with the conditions.
She snared the early lead with three successive birdies and then birdies on 10 and 12, split by a bogey on 11, had Chen out in front at 4-under. A late double bogey on the difficult par-3 17th dropped her back to the chasing pack at 2-under and tied for eighth.
Fellow Joondalup member and WA State team-mate Tom Addy is right in the hunt, making the most of his home course knowledge with a round of 67.
Addy was joined at 5-under late in the day by Bransdon who stormed home by picking up five shots in his final six holes, including an eagle at the par-5 18th.
Defending champion and Joondalup favourite, Michael Sim, had to settle for an even par 72 and will have to go low in the final round to catch the leaders.
The unique format that will see the final round played around the Quarry nine twice necessitated a cut to the top 40 pros and four leading amateurs. Four professionals were tied in 38th position, meaning a shootout was required to determine the final two spots on Sunday.
A short 66-metre pitch across the lake onto the 18th green was used as the shootout hole with Brendan Chant, Cooper Geddes, Bruce Parker and Jarred McCosh all hitting their approaches within 12 feet of the cup.
McCosh holed first, Parker narrowly missed and when Chant calmy rolled in his five-foot putt it was left to Geddes to take it to extra holes. Unfortunately for Geddes, the putt slid low and gave Chant and McCosh the final two positions in the final round.
Play commences with an 11am AWST shotgun start for the final round, which promises to provide non-stop action throughout the afternoon.
The re-routing of the nine will see the leader’s final hole taking place across the cavernous quarry, with a large crowd expected to welcome home the winner.
Adding to Sunday’s fanfare will be a Tag Heuer hole-in-one prize at the par-3 ninth/18th.
Any player that can execute the perfect shot will win themselves a Tag Heuer Connected Golf Edition watch valued at $4,000.