Thursday, 07 February 2019
Nick Flanagan  (Getty Images)
Nick Flanagan (Getty Images)

Home favourite Nick Flanagan set his sights on a European Tour card after matching the lowest opening round of the season on day one of the ISPS Handa Vic Open.

The innovative event was making its first appearance on the European Tour as the field tackled the Beach and the Creek courses at 13th Beach Golf Club, with men and women from four tours playing over the same layouts in separate tournaments for equal prize money.

Flanagan's ten under par 62 was one shot shy of the course record on the Creek but history was made over on the Beach as countryman James Nitties made a world record-equalling nine birdies in a row while matching the course record with a 64.

That left him in a tie for second alongside England's Callum Shinkwin, Kiwi James Anstiss and Chilean Hugo Leon, all of whom also equalled the course record.

Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open at Anahita champion Kurt Kitayama and Australian Jason Scrivener were also at eight under after playing the Creek course.

Flanagan has four wins on the Web.com Tour but is playing just his 16th European Tour event and would love to become a regular after finishing in the top ten at this season's Australian PGA Championship.

"I would love to play in Europe," he said. "I feel like the European Tour suits my game, courses like this and just a little bit of different golf to some of the golf I've been playing for the last two or three years."

He added: "A couple of putts early kind of dropped and then I just wasn't trying too hard, essentially. I just had one of those days where everything seemed to kind of go right."

Bernd Wiesberger made nine birdies in a row at the 2017 Maybank Championship but with preferred lies in play on that occasion, Nitties' run of gains from the 15th to the fifth make him the first player to officially achieve the feat on the European Tour.

Starting on the back nine, Flanagan birdied the 12th and 13th and, after a bogey on the next, made another gain on the 15th before eagling the par five 17th.

I would love to play in Europe. I feel like the European Tour suits my game - Nick Flanagan

The 34 year old made further gains on the second and third but with low-scoring the order of the day, a bogey on the fourth meant he was well off the pace with five to play.

He then catapulted himself up the leaderboard with birdies on the fifth and sixth, a second eagle of the day on the seventh, and a birdie on the eighth.

Nitties - who finished second at last season's ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth - started with a birdie on the tenth but double-bogeyed the 14th before his incredible run.

American Kitayama led on his own at nine under when he holed a 20-footer for eagle on the 17th after gains on the second, sixth, seventh, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th but bogeyed his final hole.

Shinkwin also got to nine under with birdies on the tenth, 11th, 15th, 17th, 18th, second, third, fifth and seventh but dropped a shot on the ninth.

Qualifying School graduate Leon eagled the second and added birdies on the fourth, tenth, 11th, 12th, 15th and last, while Scrivener and Anstiss were also bogey-free with eight birdies.

Swede Anton Karlsson was bogey-free at seven under along with Australian amateur Andre Lautee and two more home favourites in Wade Ormsby and Peter Cooke - who made two eagles.

Scot Grant Forrest and Australians Lucas Herbert and Matthew Griffin were also three shots off the lead.

In the women's event, England's Felicity Johnson fired a bogey-free 65 on the Creek course to get to eight under and lead the way by two shots from local favourite Su Oh, American Kim Kaufman and Canadian Anne-Catherine Tanguay.

Oh produced the highlight of the day with an ace from 151 yards with a six iron on the par three 15th.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LAW, DavidSCO18-18
T2ORMSBY, WadeAUS18-17
4HARDING, JustinRSA18-16

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