Home favourites Jake McLeod and Matt Jager shared the first-round lead at the Australian PGA Championship on Thursday as players wore yellow in tribute to Jarrod Lyle.
McLeod claimed victory at the New South Wales Open on the PGA Tour of Australasia two weeks ago – his first professional win – and continued his recent rise by matching Jager’s six-under 66 on the Gold Coast.
A low-scoring round had Jaewoong Eom and Dimitrios Papadatos one back, while Adrian Otaegui and Marc Leishman were among five players in a tie for fifth.
As towards the end of last season, players sported yellow caps and shirts to pay respect to the hugely popular Lyle, the Australian golfer who overcame cancer on two occasions but then suffered a third bout of acute myeloid leukaemia and passed away in August at 36.
And compatriot McLeod stood out with his bogey-free round, with birdies on the 10th, 12th, 13th and 15th contributing to a fine start that settled the nerves as he bids to make a breakthrough on the European Tour.
“Obviously I was pretty nervous starting off, but starting like that settles the nerves,” the 24-year-old said at RACV Royal Pines Resort.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 29, 2018
“I’ve seen a new psychologist for six months to a year ago now and just the things we’ve been working on have been really good, so I think that’s definitely helped a lot.
“I’m just accepting how I’m going to feel, like I can’t change my thoughts and all that sort of stuff. I just need to stay really focused on the shot and have a bit of a laugh out there and just stay relaxed.”
Jager’s round was a little less steady, with eagles at the 12th and 15th but then a bogey at the eighth that left him requiring a smart birdie on his final hole to take his share of the lead.