Round 1 reaction: Gippsland Super 6

What the leading players had to say after the opening round of the Gippsland Super 6 at Yallourn Golf Club.

Deyen Lawson (8-under 64)

On having 10 birdies in his opening round

“It was only talking to (my fiancée) Ali and she told me I’d had 10 birdies that I’d realised what I’d done. I know roughly what I am in terms of my score but I think not knowing how many birdies I’ve had might be a good thing. I do sometimes make eight, nine, 10, 11, 12 birdies in a round and not realise it. If you started thinking about how many birdies you’d had maybe you wouldn’t do it very often.”

On a new attitude coming out of COVID

“I saw my coach last week again and the stuff I’ve been doing the last three months, I’ve probably worked harder than I ever have and a little bit smarter. Normally I’d enjoy myself a little bit when I’m home but I’ve stopped drinking completely since September and I feel like when I’m practising I’m a lot more focused. I’m feeling better and now it’s just a matter of trusting what I’m working on and taking each shot at a time. COVID is probably going to make people go either way. Find a job and do that or, for me, it’s made me wake up a bit. I was a bit miserable there for a bit but now I feel better than I ever have and I’m ready. Even my coach said last week, now it’s just a matter of getting stuff to play in.”

On his birdie at the par-5 fifth

“I didn’t hit a good drive off the par 5, the fifth, and it was going to be a really risky shot to even get it up near the green. I decided to chip out with a 6-iron to a good number – which ended up being 82 metres, just a little sand wedge – and I hit that to half a foot and nearly holed it. I made birdie that way where previously I would have tried a bit much. I’m confident in most aspects of my game that even if I don’t birdie it I’m not going to do any damage.”

On returning to Yallourn Golf Club

“I played it once during my traineeship and it was a cold, wet, miserable day but I remember thinking it was a good layout. For a country course it’s definitely got some quite quick, sloping greens and can get quite tricky if you miss it on the wrong side.”

Dimi Papadatos (6-under 66)

On his excitement at returning to tournament play

“I couldn’t sleep last night I was that keen to play golf. I was maybe a little bit aggressive. I felt like I was playing all right, it’s a course you can get after but if you’re a little bit off there’s so much run and trouble that there are heaps of bogeys as well. You can make quite a few soft bogeys if you’re a little bit off and that showed up a little bit late in the round.”

On being cleared to enter Melbourne at short notice

“It was only the middle of last week that (the Central Coast) became an ‘orange zone’ and we were allowed to go. It was only last Wednesday that we looked like being a realistic chance of being able to go so I made my way down on Saturday because I didn’t want it to shut up again. As soon as the pro-ams in Newcastle finished I packed my bags on the Friday and started driving Saturday morning. I got tested Saturday afternoon at about 2 o’clock, had to get a hotel, stay in the hotel room until we got a negative result which I got Sunday night at 7 o’clock and then we were free to go.”

Michael Wright (6-under 66)

On being in contention at 46 years of age

“It’s kind of cool to be able to do it at my age. Maybe it’s the relaxed attitude that helped me out there today. I hit it quite scratchy in the practice round but that’s golf, you don’t have to flush it in the practice rounds, just get it done when it counts.”

On being cleared to go to Melbourne from Brisbane

“I played a few times last week at my home club at Brookwater and played quite nice but at that point we didn’t know whether we could get down here. All I want to do is get away and play a tournament if I’m playing good and sure enough on the Saturday night they changed the rules which enabled us to get down here. I’d entered hoping I’d be able to go and then it got right down to the wire. They called it on the Saturday night and I needed to have withdrawn by midday Sunday. We didn’t have much time up our sleeve. I got tested at 1 o’clock right near the gate where the plane came in on the Monday and I got my result by 6 o’clock the following morning.”

On the par at 12 that helped maintain momentum

“I plotted along there today and then made a couple of nice putts for birdie and then made a good 15-footer for par on the par-3 12th. That felt like an eagle. That kept the momentum going. I had a couple more birdies late and then had two harsh lip-outs on the last two holes so it could have been even better.”

Marcus Fraser (5-under 67)

On losing his ball on the tee shot at nine

“I thought it was perfect when I hit it and then got up there and couldn’t find it. I went back down and hit another one, it was about two yards to the right of the first one and it was perfect in the first cut of rough. I hit that on and birdied the second ball but I thought the first one was perfect. I don’t know what happened to it but it was gone.”

On his return to tournament play

“It was a bit of the unknown really. I played the pro-ams last week to try and have a hit-out before playing some four-rounders but before that I hadn’t really done a hell of a lot. I got off to a bit of a slow start but then gradually chipped away at it. Then the fifth hole I chipped in for eagle. Other than that it was all pretty steady.”

On how he prepared for the tournament

“There hasn’t been too much of my golf, I’ve been teaching some other people how to do it. I’ve always wanted to do some short game and putting coaching when I finished playing so I’ve started the bridging program and been doing a bit of that down at Peninsula-Kingswood. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do and I get the chance to do it now.

On the difference in Yallourn Golf Club compared to 2019

“The course is completely different, and we’re playing it in a different wind also. It’s almost like a different golf course compared to when we played it last time. I prefer it this way. The ball’s bouncing, the greens are at a nice speed and for one ground staff and all the volunteers they do an unbelievable job to get it to this condition for a four-round tour event.”

Ben Eccles (5-under 67)

On his double-bogey at the par-4 ninth

“I hit one bad shot for the day and it was off that tee. I snap-hooked a driver into the rubbish on the left and made a par with the second ball. I holed some really nice putts – a couple for par – and some really nice ones for birdie.”

On his eagle at the par-5 fifth

“I hit 2-iron off the tee up the hill which left me 212 metres to the flag. I hit 4-iron to 6-8 feet and that was probably the best shot I hit all day. That was really nice that one. I didn’t hit many really close today, I holed some putts that I didn’t expect to hole and I built on it. Then I got to the fifth and hit two really, really nice shots into there and made the eagle and I was 7-under and thinking, This is really nice.”

On how he spent time away from professional golf

“I had a long break to be honest. I was helping out my brother and my dad in their building company, helping to frame houses with them. Then I took up a job in August working at Drummond Golf Geelong for a mate of mine who owns it. I was playing here and there and keeping the touch up but because every email was a cancellation or another postponement I just kept doing what I was doing and playing. That’s pretty much how I got through the past 10 months. I tried to keep myself as busy as possible because there are only so many things you can watch on Netflix. It’s been very bizarre but because I’ve played so much over the last five years as a pro it was a nice break at the beginning and now my feet are just so itchy to get back and competing again. It’s so nice to be back competing, it’s awesome.”

Tom Power Horan (3-under 69)

On how he began his title defence

“I made some poor bogeys. I played quite well the front nine and then a couple of soft bogeys. I feel like I should have been a few better to be honest but I’ll take it. It’s nice to play well because it gives you confidence but to be honest it’s a little bit annoying. If it was two shots better it makes the next two rounds a little bit easier. I don’t think I quite capitalised on how well I played.”

On the difference in how the Yallourn layout is playing

“The course is much, much firmer and the wind direction is the total opposite. Some of the holes that were the tougher ones last time are probably the easier holes and vice versa. It makes it a good challenge but it’s definitely there to be had. It wouldn’t surprise me to see someone shoot a really good score. If you drive the ball well there’s plenty of opportunities.”

On how the format will dictate tactics the next two rounds

“Normally for me I’m always looking at the cut line so that’s a bit of an issue but this one you’ve got the cut-line and then the top 24 for Sunday. If you’re only just making the cut you’re probably going to need a really good round in the third round. The first two rounds you generally play the course how you want to play it but then that third round it’s make or bust. Depending on the position I’m in will determine how aggressive or conservative I am but then those who just make the cut will play much more aggressively. I think there’ll be a big difference in the third round with guys being much more aggressive whereas the first two rounds you play the course as it is and see how it goes.”

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