Eighteen-year-old amateur Hayden Hopewell is plotting a final-round magic act after a late Brett Rumford stumble tightened up the top of the leaderboard heading into the final round of the TX Civil & Logistics WA PGA Championship at Kalgoorlie Golf Course.
Desert tornados strong enough to send players to the ground made scoring difficult in round two with Hopewell’s 4-under 68 the equal best of the day alongside fellow amateur Adam Brady, no other player in the field able to break 70.
“There were some strong winds here and there and even a dust tornado on the seventh tee box,” Hopewell said.
“I was halfway down the sixth so I had a front-row seat to it. It was enough to drop you to the deck. You could hear it from halfway down six. It was massive actually.”
Female amateur Maddison Tolchard looked set to join Hopewell and Brady in posting 68 on Friday but three late bogeys saw her sign for an even par 71 ahead of Saturday’s final round in the 54-hole event.
As was the case after round one Rumford and Braden Becker sit atop the leaderboard at 6-under after both posted 1-over 73 with 2019 runner-up Jarryd Felton to play alongside Hopewell in the second-to-last group one shot back of the leaders.
Birdies at 15, 18, 1 and 2 saw Hopewell surge up the leaderboard and again make his presence felt in a professional event and he will begin the final round two shots off the lead.
Winner of the inaugural Junior 6’s Invitational last year, Hopewell followed that up with a tie for 10th at the Gippsland Super 6 and was top-30 at the Australian Open after shooting 7-under in Monday qualifying to play his way into the field.
Now the Royal Fremantle teen nicknamed ‘Houdini’ is ready to press for a maiden win in professional company.
“That was a nickname from when I played footy from the age of eight to 12,” Hopewell explained.
“That came about because I always seemed to be the one who broke free from the pack so that’s where I got my nickname ‘Houdini’.
“It snuck through to golf because when I’m in the bush I always seem to get a gap and find my way out.
“I’ll just try to play some steady golf, hit some strong shots off the tee and hopefully set myself up with some good birdie chances and roll a few in.”
View this post on Instagram
What a day at the #WAPGA ⛳️ @brettrumford and @boet17 have held onto the lead at @kalgoorliegolfcourse after each posting second round scores of +1. @jarryd_felton has closed the gap to the leaders with a round of -1, taking his total to -5. @haydenhopewell holds fourth place at -4. Bring on the final round ?
Rumford, the winner at Kalgoorlie in 2015, looked to have a stranglehold on the tournament when he got to 8-under midway through his round before a disastrous five-putt on the par-3 17th brought the veteran back to the field.
A birdie at the final hole ensured he kept a share of the lead through 36 holes but the six-time European Tour winner was left ruing his late mishap.
“It was all pretty steady, steady all day, just hit two really good golf shots into two par-3s, made a double and a triple including my first five-putt since turning professional,” said Rumford, whose double bogey at the par-3 fourth also proved costly.
“It was a suspect pin (on 17), let’s put it that way. I hit a great golf shot and got punished for hitting it straight at the flagstick.
“Don’t get me wrong, the winds were tricky today but the two par-3s I got really unlucky with a lie down in the gully on four and made an easy double and then 17 hit one of the best 5-irons I hit all day and walked off with six from the fringe.
“With that I’ve probably made the golf tournament more interesting than I would have liked.”
Drawing inspiration from fellow Perth local and major winner Hannah Green and with her sister on the bag this week, Tolchard’s impressive round highlights the bright future ahead of her.
Prevented from beginning her college career at Oklahoma State University this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tolchard is simply grateful for the opportunity to play a competitive tournament and test herself against the leading male amateurs and professionals in WA.
“Playing these sorts of events is good just to see where you’re at and it’s a big challenge especially being off the back tees,” said Tolchard, who was runner-up at the 2019 IMG Academy Junior World Championship.
“Obviously you’re hitting a lot longer clubs into greens and being up against the men it’s an extra challenge.
“I’ve played Kalgoorlie once before but that was eight years ago when I was like 10 years old so I don’t really remember the course at all.
“I was coming in quite blind but my sister is on my bag this week and she’s played here four or five times so she knows it a lot better than I do and she’s been a big help.
“The course has been great, I love it.”
Leading scores after Round 2
138: Brett Rumford, Braden Becker
139: Jarryd Felton
140: Hayden Hopewell (a)
141: Daniel Fox, Adam Brady (a)
142: Scott Strange, Daniel Hoeve, Joseph Owen (a)