Kiwi Nick Voke birdied his final three holes to shoot 10-under 62 and earn a share of the lead at the halfway mark of the Queensland PGA Championship at Nudgee Golf Club.
Smarting after a double-bogey and bogey in his final four holes for 73 on Thursday, Voke set Nudgee alight in overcast conditions on Friday morning.
Teeing off from the 10th hole, Voke’s first birdie came at the par-3 11th and he would add seven more along with an eagle at the par-5 fourth to smash the previous course record of 7-under 65 shared by 2021 champion Anthony Quayle and Haydn Barron.
His 36-hole total of 9-under was matched late on Friday afternoon by Victorian Andrew Kelly (66) with Monday qualifier Mitchell Varley (64) just one stroke off the lead.
Heavy rain lashed the course late in Round 2 with the cut-line moving out to 1-over as the final groups completed their rounds, 61 players including four amateurs advancing to the weekend.
West Australian Ben Ferguson (69) is the next best at 6-under followed by New Zealand’s Kerry Mountcastle (65), Jake Hughes (69) and New South Wales pair Harrison Crowe (70) and Andrew Campbell (71).
Voke only flew into Brisbane from the United States on Monday and, as fifth alternate, faced the possibility of flying straight to China for the Volvo China Open.
Instead, he has bunked in with fellow Iowa State alumni and current Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit winner, Lachlan Barker, and played his way to the top of the leaderboard with a career-best round.
It was during his stint at Iowa State that Voke shot 10-under 61 but left his run late to claim a slice of history at Nudgee.
“I eagled the par 5, the fourth hole, and that got me to seven (under) and then I missed a short one (for birdie) on the next hole,” said Voke.
“I was thinking anywhere around 7 or 8-under would be a really good score but then I got on the driveable par 4, the seventh hole, and I’ve just ripped this 3-wood just over the green.
“That was a really big moment, up-and-down there. Chipped in on the next and then I’m 9-under with one to go.
“The nerves are there, you can feel the adrenaline, you can feel the moment and I was just really happy that I flushed my driving iron, hit an 8-iron to 10 feet and walked it in.
“It was a really nice way to handle that moment.”
Voke’s record round sent a shockwave through the field… not that Kelly noticed.
The 36-year-old who coaches part-time at Rossdale Golf Club estimates that he has quit playing professionally “three or four times” but was tied for third at the NT PGA Championship in August.
Like Voke, it was a late flurry of three straight birdies from the 12th hole that converted a good round into something more significant, his only bogey through two rounds coming at the par-4 16th.
“I thought, maybe it’s just better to have that out of the way,” said Kelly after going 33 holes bogey-free.
“It sounds a bit odd but I have a lot of bogey-free rounds. It doesn’t mean that I have 10 birdies when I do it, but I do have a fair few bogey-free rounds.”
Three-under overnight, Kelly was blissfully unaware as to the carnage Voke had wreaked just 20 minutes before he teed off.
“I didn’t look but 10-under is pretty ridiculous,” said Kelly.
“Nick has a lot of good results but I didn’t actually know that he’d 10. I’d just assumed he probably shot five and five or something like that.”
Varley’s round of 8-under 64 would have earned course record status had it come a day earlier.
As it is, the 23-year-old from Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast is grateful to be in the field after a near mishap in qualifying.
Although he shot 2-under 70, he signed for a 1-under 71, which would ultimately prove to be just enough to avoid a nine-for-one playoff.
A former junior pennants player at Nudgee, Varley made the turn in 3-under before catching fire with five birdies in six holes in just his third appearance in such company.
“It’s just trying to adapt to the new atmosphere,” said Varley, who turned professional at the start of the year.
“Obviously it’s a little bit different from amateur events but just trying to focus on what I can control and keep it going.”
The final two rounds of the Queensland PGA Championship will be broadcast live on Foxtel and Kayo from 2:30pm-5:30pm Saturday and 12:30pm-5:30pm Sunday AEDT.