Golf: Hunter pair to lead NSW charge at South Pacific School Games

ON Course: Outstanding Charlestown junior Jye Picken shot rounds of 72-71 on Monday to finish three shots behind Branxton's Corey Lamb at the South Pacific School Games in Adelaide. Picture: David Tease NSW GOLF
ON Course: Outstanding Charlestown junior Jye Picken shot rounds of 72-71 on Monday to finish three shots behind Branxton's Corey Lamb at the South Pacific School Games in Adelaide. Picture: David Tease NSW GOLF

JYE Pickin played second fiddle to Branxton’s Corey Lamb on the opening day of the South Pacific School Games in Adelaide on Monday.

But the Charlestown junior hopes the pair can join forces to help lead NSW to a gold medal in the teams event.

Lamb fired rounds of 67-75 to win the individual stroke at The Grange, with Pickin (72-73) three shots back in fourth.

“Corey played really well, especially in the morning,” Pickin said. “I got it going early in the afternoon, but a double bogey at the 14th stalled my progress.”

Lamb and Pickin will play No.1 and No.2 for NSW in the teams event, which starts Wednesday and consists of 36 holes of matchplay each day. They meet ACT and Victoria on Wednesday, Western Australia and Queensland on Thursday and finish on Friday against the hosts (18 holes).

“The NSW players all finished in the top 15 so hopefully we can keep the form going and finish in the medals,” said Pickin, who has just completed year 11 at Macquarie College.

The South Pacific School Games continues a hectic schedule for 17-year-old, who captained the Golf NSW junior team at the interstate series in April.

At the completion of Friday’s round, Pickin will have played 12 competition rounds in 10 days.

Pickin led the  Hunter contingent at the Jack Newton Junior Golf Champions Trophy at Bonville last week, finishing in a tie for fifth at 10 over after rounds of 72-76-73-77.

Concord’s Joah Gadd was the only player to break par, shooting 72-72-70-40 to be four under.

Maitland’s Clayton Small (74-71-80-78) was tied for 10th, four places ahead of Lamb (78-73-74-84). Josh Robards (Newcastle), Riley McClung (Branxton), Harry Atkinson (Kurri Kurri) and Brij Ingrey (Newcastle) missed the cut. The Champions Trophy was restricted to players who had won a JNJG events this year.

Atkinson is also representing NSW at the South Pacific School Games. He is in the 12 years and under side, which opened the week with a four-man ambrose event at Glenelg.

* Aaron Townsend is one good round away from securing a place on the lucrative Japan tour next year.

The Parramatta-based Novocastrian is in 57th place at five under, with the final 18 holes of Q School to be played Tuesday. The top 35 earn full status for next year.

More than 200 players started the six-round final stage. Townsend fired rounds of 70-74-86-79 to be six under and make the cut by four strokes. He added a one-over 73 on Monday.

* Brayden Petersen rates his game as “the best it has ever been” after a runaway win in the Charlestown club championships. Petersen, 22, fired a final-round 71 to finish at eight-under par, 12 strokes ahead of runner-up Jye Pickin.

“I started with a bogey but hit my stride through the middle of the round,” Petersen said.

“There was no pressure. I have been playing solid and just getting it done, really.”

Petersen, a NSW amateur representative, has been accepted by the PGA to undertake a traineeship but “there is none on offer in the Newcastle area”.

“The plan was to do a traineeship but now I’m looking at going to Q School,” he said.

The first stage of Australasian Q school is being held at the Riverside Oaks, starting Wednesday.

* Jake Higginbottom needs a strong finish in the final two events to retain his Asian tour card after the 24-year-old missed the cut at Mauritius Open.

Higginbottom, who is 54th on the order of merit with US $55,603, recorded rounds of 70-74 to miss weekend play by three strokes. He is in South Africa this week for the US $1.2m Joburg Open.

The final event is the Indonesian Masters (December 14-17).

* James Nitties finished the highest-placed Hunter golfer on the Australasia Order of Merit. Nitties pocketed $57,270 from 10 events to be 30th.

Andrew Dodt, who plays on the European Tour, was next at 32nd with $56,336, one spot ahead of Asia-based Higginbottom ($52,882). Cal O’Reilly ($41,467) also finished in the top 60 to retain his card.