Former Australian Amateur champ Matias Sanchez will be chasing his first professional win on Friday after carding an impressive five-under-par 67 in the opening round of the Queanbeyan Open.
The 24-year-old has plenty of challengers snapping at his heels, though, with 13 players within three shots of the lead after the opening day’s play at Queanbeyan Golf Club just outside the ACT.
“It was pretty good out there,” a happy Sanchez said. “I played well.”
Sanchez admitted post-round that he didn’t exactly jump out of the gates as quickly as he would have liked, but a brace of solid par putts early on kept him towards the top of the leaderboard.
“I was hitting good shots early on, but I had to hole three five-footers in a row – all for par – to keep myself in it,” Sanchez added.
The Victorian finally started his day with a birdie on the sixth. However, he gave it straight back with a bogey on the demanding par-4 seventh.
“I birdied six, the par 3, and that felt really good. I was going all right but nothing special,” he said.
With the field battling conditions more like winter than summer, Sanchez stayed calm as the round progressed. After missing a couple of chances early in his back nine, his patience was finally rewarded with a well-timed eagle on the par-5 13th.
“I missed a couple (of putts) early in the back nine, but then holed out from about 50 metres on the 13th, out of the rough with a lob wedge,” he explained.
“It snuck in the front lip, so that was nice.
“That kick-started it for me for sure.”
Riding a wave of momentum following the eagle, Sanchez birdied the 16th from the right edge of the green, then, on the last, got up and down from 65 metres for another birdie to finish at five-under and secure the clubhouse lead.
“It’s another day tomorrow, so I’ve got to keep hitting good shots,” was his summation.
“To win any event, two-day or more, would be a real achievement. I’m going to go out and try to shoot the best possible score I can, and hopefully, it’s good enough.”
A shot back from Sanchez also chasing a breakthrough adidas PGA Pro-Am Series win is his Victorian counterpart, Andre Lautee, and Castle Hill’s Alex Edge.
Lautee looked to be the man they were all going to be chasing in the final round when he got to six-under, but unfortunately for the rookie Victorian, he made an ill-timed double bogey on the 17th to undo much of his excellent work.
Edge, too, looked to be cruising at six-under, however, a couple of bogeys late also undid much of his earlier good work. Still, the Castle Hill PGA Professional was pleased with his day’s efforts and looked forward to the final round.
“I saw a couple of putts go in early so it was nice to get off to a solid start.” Edge smiled.
“It’s fairly short, fairly tight and you have to hit it in the right part of the fairway around here.”
The final round of the Queanbeyan Open tees off at 7.50am Friday morning with the lead group of Sanchez, Edge and Lautee off at 12.40pm AEDT.
Click here for Round 1 scores