Queenslander TJ King has shot out to a strong first-round lead at the PGA Professional Championship at The Heritage in Melbourne, with only two players managing to break par on a tough opening day.
The 26-year-old Assistant Professional from Mount Coolum fired a 5-under 67 to lead the field by two shots ahead of Royal Hobart’s Matt Docking who began with a 69.
Despite the wet weather on Monday, King (pictured today) still managed to get a full practice round in, and was happy with how the conditions turned around for the better.
He was runner-up at Yarra Yarra in this tournament last year.
“I enjoyed the course, the greens rolled awesome,” he said.
“I managed to hole a few putts and birdie three of the par threes, which really helped gain a few on the field.”
Part of the winning Four Nations Cup team this year, King said that tournament had helped coming into this week.
“It was good to have some sort of competitive golf before I teed it up this week. That team environment of golf is fun, which definitely helped and lifted my spirits.”
King has been at Mount Coolum since he was a junior, a place he truly loves.
“I started out there washing the carts. When I graduated school I got a job in the shop, started my traineeship there and now I’m the Assistant Pro,” he said.
Defending champion Scott Laycock was one of those who struggled in round one, carding a 78.
The top two finishers in this 54-hole event receive a start in the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland next month.
Docking, 42, is the Head PGA Professional at Royal Hobart but not for long; he is going home to Swan Hill on the Murray in a fortnight with his family to take up a position as Director of Golf at Murray Downs Country Club.
He made a bomb for birdie on the first green to set the tone. Adding another three birdies on the front nine he took a share of the lead but battling a ‘stinger’ in his right hand, he gave back shots at the 10th and the 17th before scrambling a par from left of the 18th green to post his 3-under.
Docking is originally Victorian and has played plenty of golf on the Murray. “It’s a homecoming of sorts for me. I’ve spent a lot of time on the Murray and I can’t wait.”