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Lavender Sets Blistering Opening-Day Pace at Vinpearl  

Australian James Lavender continued his rich vein of form to race into the opening-day lead at the 2023 Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) Senior Championships.

On his first trip to Vietnam, 62-year-old Lavender fired six birdies en route to a four-under-par 68 to soar to the summit in a high- quality field at Vinpearl Golf Nam Hoi An.

Going into Wednesday’s second round in the 54-hole event, Lavender holds a three-stroke lead from Indian Sandeep S. Sandhu, the only other player to better par on a warm day when preferred lies were in play following heavy recent rain.

In joint third place with Korean Jang Heong-soo on even-par 72 is New Zealander Brent Paterson, a two-time former APGC Senior champion who won the R&A Senior Amateur championships at Woodhall Spa in England in July.

Also in contention are two other former APGC Senior champions.

Australian Greg Rhodes, victorious in Malaysia last year, carded a 73 for sole possession of fifth place, while New Zealander Stuart Duff, winner in 2019, is joint 10th after a 75.

Unlike Rhodes and Duff, Lavender is making his debut in the APGC Seniors having had to withdraw from last year’s event due to work commitments. Having scaled down his company, Lavender is now able to focus more on his golf, the fruits of which were evidenced by a second successive triumph in the Australian Senior Amateur last month.

Club champion at the Northern Golf Club in Victoria on no fewer than 24 occasions, Lavender has quickly made himself at home in Vietnam.

“I like the course. It’s quite similar to some of the courses I play in Victoria where you have to get into the right position in the fairways,” said Lavender, whose six birdies came in two batches of three – holes five, six and seven on the front and 13, 14 and 15 on the back.

Such was the accuracy of his approach shots that the longest putt he made was from 15 feet.

Despite his fast start, Lavender is not getting ahead of himself as he bids for a victory that would earn him a start in the 2024 R&A Seniors Amateur. “I’ve had a lot of good first rounds in tournaments and then fallen over. So I don’t get too over-confident,” he said.

Paterson, who carded a nine-under 63 in Monday’s practice round, was also impressed with the course – and the warm welcome received by all players from the APGC and Vietnam Golf Association.

Winner of the APGC Seniors in Australia in 2017 and Japan in 2018, Paterson said: “The course is in good nick. There was a little extra grooming after the practice round and the tournament pins were much tougher.

“The welcome dinner (on Monday evening) was also fantastic – it was like an Olympic Games opening ceremony!”

Meanwhile, Australia is also setting the pace in the team tournament in which they are the defending champions.

In the event in which the best three daily scores in each four-man team are counted, the Australian quartet of Lavender, Rhodes, Mark Allen and Ian Frost sit atop the leaderboard on even-par 216.

India is second on 221 followed by New Zealand (223), Korea 2 (226), Hong Kong, China 1 and Korea 1 (both 227).

In the second edition of the APGC Women’s Senior Championship, opening-day honours went to Australian Gemma Dooley who posted a two-over-par 74.

One stroke back in second is her compatriot Sue Wooster, individual runner-up last year. Another Australian, Louise Mullard, and New Zealand’s Lisa Herbert share third spot on 76.

With the two best daily scores in each three-strong line-up being counted, Australia has leapt into a six-stroke lead in the team tournament from New Zealand with Hong Kong, China a further nine shots back in third.

This is just the second occasion since the APGC Senior Championships were inaugurated in 2006 that they’ve been staged in Vietnam, the first time being at Montgomerie Links in Danang in 2013.

Gold Sponsors this week are VinpearlGolf and Noressy. Silver Sponsors are Long Bien Golf Course, QUAVIET, Superkit, bep Tran and S Golf.

LEADING MEN’S INDIVIDUAL SCORES

68 – James Lavender (Australia)
71 – Sandeep S. Sandhu (India)
72 – Brent Paterson (New Zealand); Jang Heong-soo (Korea)
73 – Greg Rhodes (Australia)
74 – Duong Ngoc Duong (Vietnam); Kim Dong-sub (Korea); Syren Johnstone (Hong Kong, China)
75 – Andrew Ng (Singapore); Lai Chee Weng (Singapore); Gaurav Ghosh (India); Mark Allen (Australia); Kim Yang-kwon (Korea); Stuart Duff (New Zealand); Jaideep Singh (India)
76 – Chin Teck Chuan (Singapore); Stuart Murray (Hong Kong, China); David D’Souza (India); Kim Yeon-gi (Korea); Tony Chettleburgh (New Zealand)
77 – Amit Luthra (India); Doug Williams (Hong Kong, China); Chung Hwan (Korea)
78 – Ian Frost (Australia); Jimmy Aw (Singapore); Hoang Mai (Vietnam); Pushpendra Singh Rathore (India)
79 – Daryl Poe (Guam); Tony Melloy (Hong Kong, China); Ryo Ki-ro (Korea); Nguyen Huy Tien (Vietnam); Peter Hargreaves (Australia); Charles Beay Seng Giap (Singapore); Malcolm Gullery (New Zealand); John Ball (Hong Kong, China)

LEADING MEN’S TEAM SCORES

216 – Australia (James Lavender 68; Greg Rhodes 73; Mark Allen 75; Ian Frost 78)
221 – India (Sandeep S. Sandhu 71; Jaideep Singh 75; Gaurav Ghosh 75; David D’Souza 76)
223 – New Zealand (Brent Paterson 72; Stuart Duff 75; Tony Chettleburgh 76; Malcolm Gullery 79)
226 – Korea 2 (Kim Dong-sub 74; Kim Yang-kwon 75; Chung Hwan 77; Lim Nae-rack 87)
227 – Korea 1 (Jang Heong-soo 72; Kim Yeon-gi 76; Ryo Ki-ro 79; Jung Gyeong-ho 81)
229 – Hong Kong, China (Syren Johnstone 74; Stuart Murray 76; John Ball 79; Yoshihiro Nishi 82)

LEADING WOMEN’S INDIVIDUAL SCORES

74 – Gemma Dooley (Australia)
75 – Sue Wooster (Australia)
76 – Louise Mullard (Australia); Lisa Herbert (New Zealand)
78 – Bui Kim Oanh (Vietnam)
79 – Yukiko Hirahara (Singapore); Robyn Pellow (New Zealand); Lam Thi Mai (Vietnam)
80 – Diana Syer (New Zealand)

LEADING WOMEN’S TEAM SCORES

149 – Australia (Gemma Dooley 74; Sue Wooster 75; Louise Mullard 76)
155 – New Zealand (Lisa Herbert 76; Robyn Pellow 79; Diana Syer 80)
164 – Hong Kong China (Loida Arnold 81; Cathy Chung 83; Felicia Louey 86)
165 – Vietnam 1 (Lam Thi Mai 79; Nguyen Thi To Uyen 86; Hoang Thi Tam 102)

 


 

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