Gale leads Western Open as Kim shines in Aussie pro debut - PGA of Australia

Gale leads Western Open as Kim shines in Aussie pro debut

Daniel Gale’s playing partners said it all as the Sydneysider strode with a smile towards the score return at Dubbo Golf Club after round one of the Western Open.

“He made every putt he looked at,” they chimed almost in chorus.

And when they added them up, Gale led the 36-hole event by two after a spectacular nine-under-par 63 that featured a five-under run in four holes mid-round.

“I missed a short par putt on the 16th, but I chipped in very unexpectedly (for birdie) on the 13th and pretty much boxed everything from the ninth through to the end,” Gale said.

The powerful 25-year-old was victorious in the Blitz Golf event at Howlong that marked the resumption of the adidas Pro-Am Series and was in the penultimate group last week at Murray Downs.

And he’ll be in the final group tomorrow alongside his good mate Charlie Dann and long-time friend Grace Kim, who was stellar in her Australian professional debut.

Kim and Dann each carded 65s based on strings of birdies and eagles.

Kim, the delightful Sydneysider who has done almost everything in amateur golf, was drawn to play in the marquee group alongside two of the most successful pros in Australian domestic golf, Peter Lonard and Matt Millar.

As a woman against the men, as a 20-year-old against the veterans and, probably the biggest challenge – in her first round as a professional on Australian soil.

She said on tournament eve that she might battle to sleep with the task ahead of her.

But she’ll sleep much easier tonight after a remarkable afternoon in which she looked more like her idol Karrie Webb than a wide-eyed rookie still pondering her 2022 status on the LPGA’s secondary Symetra Tour.

Kim was, naturally, pleased and relieved with her showing.

“Matt and Peter were so nice to me,” she beamed afterwards.

“They really helped me settle in out there from the start, and I was quite comfortable and that’s why I shot a good score.

“I was a bit nervous on the first tee when they introduced themselves, but I made a nice par and then a birdie on the second and then I was away.”

That “away” didn’t take full shape for a couple of hours. She turned in 34, but things only heated up when she nipped a perfect short pitch shot from 25m that fell into the 12th cup for eagle on its second last roll.

After burning the edge on 13, she made a hat-trick of birdies from the 14th and returned in a stellar 31.

The second last group on Tuesday will feature Kade McBride (66) alongside Mitch Davis and Newcastle amateur Jye Pickin, who each notched fine 67s.

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