The joy of a new baby daughter and the pain of having the TX Civil & Logistics WA PGA Championship snatched from his grasp two years ago will be the driving forces behind Brody Martin’s claim to the Nexus Risk WA Open crown at Royal Fremantle Golf Club on Sunday.
For the second day in succession Royal Fremantle kept WA’s best professionals and amateurs at arm’s length with Martin opening up a two-shot buffer at the top of the leaderboard at 5-under courtesy of a 4-under par round of 68.
Rising amateur star Hayden Hopewell is the nearest challenger having moved to 3-under with a birdie at the par-5 18th hole, he and veteran Brett Rumford the only other players to break 70, Rumford joining amateur Haydn Barron at 2-under par to be three shots back.
Starting from the 10th tee on Saturday, Martin’s considered approach to a firm and fast Royal Fremantle layout paid dividends from the outset, taking 4-iron from the tee at his opening hole, hitting 7-iron to eight feet and starting his round with a birdie.
He added two more in his next three holes to vault to the top of the leaderboard and open up a handy lead, further birdies at two, four and five elevating him to 5-under with one round to play.
It’s a position Martin found himself in two years ago at the WA PGA at Kalgoorlie only to be run down by a Michael Long course record to lose by a shot.
It was a disappointment that he has only just shaken but Martin believes the challenge the course is presenting will make such a scenario unlikely on Sunday.
“I was in this situation in 2018. I had a couple of shots on Simon Hawkes, three on Jarryd (Felton) and five on Michael Long and Michael shot a course record at Kalgoorlie to beat me by a shot,” Martin recalled.
“I thought about that for a solid 18 months. Every time I practised, every time I played golf I thought about the shots I hit. There was a 2-iron in that final round that I’ve practised 1,000 times since.
“Those poor memories do come into it but it also taught me a lot too.
“I’m playing good enough, I just need to play sensible.
“If the conditions are as hard as they have been the last two days I can’t really see much better than 5 or 6-under being posted. And if someone does that they obviously deserve to win the golf tournament.”
One of those hoping to bridge the gap with a low round on Sunday will be amateur Haydn Barron.
Selected to represent Australia at both the Nomura Cup and Asia-Pacific Amateur this year – two events that were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemis – Barron’s plans to turn professional have been put on hold and he knows it will take something special to chase down Martin.
“If Brody is 5-under still that’s incredible playing,” Barron said prior to Martin completing his round.
“I don’t think there’s a super-low round out there. I can’t see someone shooting more than 5-under, at absolute best.
“Someone will shoot 3 or 4-under and that will be it.
“I feel like I haven’t been in contention for a long time so I definitely had some nerves out there today. I just tried to keep myself as calm as I could all day, regardless of what happened.
“For me it’s a matter of going as low as I can early and hold on down that really difficult stretch at the end.”
Whether month-old Indiana will be part of the gallery on Sunday is still to be decided but Martin hopes she will be there at the end to share in the victory celebration with wife Courtney.
“It’s a similar situation of what had me defeated last time but the only thing that will help me to defend it will be these conditions,” Martin said.
“Even par could be good enough. If I can keep playing sensible golf, try and make 14 or 15 pars tomorrow, I think I’m going to be in there come the last hole.
“You’ve got to look at the golf course and see what kind of scores you can shoot. For me, I’m going to go home, same game-plan tomorrow and really look at the holes I need to make birdies and capitalise on those.
“The scores aren’t going to be hot because of the greens and they’re putting the flags in hard spots.
“There is a little bit of a game-plan but just respecting the holes that I need to respect.”
139: Brody Martin
141: Hayden Hopewell (a)
142: Haydn Barron (a), Brett Rumford
144: Oliver Goss
145: Darren Garrett, Joshua Greer (a), Adam Brady (a), Tom Addy (a), Ben Ferguson