Josh Younger wheels own bag after six birdies in opening six holes set up first round lead


“A bloke I played with in the Pro-Am offered and I said, ‘look, I’m happy’,” Younger said. “And a bloke I’m staying with said the same thing. I was pretty happy to do it myself.

“You play Pro-Ams you’re probably doing it yourself and smaller events here on the tour we tend to do it ourselves. It’s only really when you’re forced to have a caddie you probably get one. Sometimes it’s all right because if you’re going well you can keep to yourself, but if you’re not going well you beat yourself up a lot more.

NSW OPEN LEADERBOARD

  • -9: Josh Younger
  • -8: Min Woo Lee, Justin Warren
  • -7: Dimi Papadatos, Nathan Barbieri (a), Travis Smyth
  • -6: Jye Pickin (a)

(after opening round)

“I’ll see how the next few days go and cross that bridge when we get there.”

Warren fired eight birdies and an eagle in his 64, the best of the early starters alongside rising professional Min Woo Lee.

The recently-turned Picton professional has started his first play-for-pay Australian summer after finishing college in America, just over a year since the death of his grandfather Barry Warren. Barry won the 1957 Australian Amateur over Bruce Devlin.

“He’s played with some of the greats and they’ve said some really good things about him,” Justin said. “Unfortunately I never saw him hit a golf ball, which is probably one of the things I’m going to kick myself [about] for a really long time. Even when he was 80 playing at Nelson Bay he was still playing off seven. It’s certainly in the blood.”

Sometimes it’s all right because if you’re going well you can keep to yourself and if you’re not going well you beat yourself up a lot more

Josh Younger

Lee narrowly missed out on earning full status on the European Tour and is hunting a maiden breakthrough as a professional.

“For the last few months I got told I had my card wrapped up and I didn’t need any more invites,” said Lee, the brother of Australia’s top-ranked female golfer Minjee Lee.

“I didn’t know until the cameras came out on 17 and 18 that I was the bubble boy which was kind of like heartbreaking. I played a little bit different. It was an unlucky thing, but I’m still in a good position for next year. I’m happy where I am.”

Star amateur Nathan Barbieri and Australian Open runner-up Dimi Papadatos carded 65s, both of whom are linked to former NRL star Braith Anasta’s burgeoning golf management company. Anasta was on the bag for Barbieri during his first round.

Min Woo Lee during the first round of the NSW Open.

Wollongong’s Travis Smyth also joined them with a slick seven-under despite a double bogey blip on his closing hole.

“If you had have told me before I’d started I’d be seven-under after round one I would be over the moon,” Smyth said. “I still am happy, but I just hit one bad shot. I just had it on a string. I didn’t have the best warm-up and I felt a bit sick. I didn’t know what was going on and wasn’t sure how I was to play.

“I’d love to put my name on the trophy [Kel Nagle Cup] with all the great names on there. I’d love to win any tournament as a professional, but the NSW Open and Australian Open have a little bit more meaning.”

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Andrew Martin (-3) provided the highlight of the first round when he signed for a hole-in-one on the 144-metre par-three second while 14-year-old Jake Riley (+7) is long odds to make the cut after a remarkable feat to qualify for the $400,000 event.

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