Playing in the same group, the duo carded matching 7-under-par 63’s in conditions perfect for scoring. They lead by two from New South Wales Justin Warren at 5-under with Queensland’s Christopher Wood and another NSW- based player, Andrew Evans in a tie for fourth at 4-under.
Quayle was on fire early, turning in three under par. A hole-out eagle on the 2nd, (his 11th) saw him vault to 5-under and out to a handy two-shot lead. Birdies on the 6th and the 9th (his last hole) were enough to ensure lunch was going to be a pleasant experience.
Quayle was a satisfied man with his opening round, although he admitted he was still a little bit sore after completing the Cancer Council’s Longest Day Challenge on Tuesday.
“I pulled up a little bit sore and sorry,” he confided. “I had reasonably low expectations, but the course is great, and I had good playing partners, so yeah, I finished nicely.”
Regardless of his thoughts on his chances, Quayle was glad to be in a share of the lead.
“No matter where you play or what you play in, and we haven’t had much to play in this year, it always feels nice to be in the lead or roundabouts,” he said.
“It gets the juices flowing a bit and gives you a chance to compete; hole a putt under pressure or when you need to.”
Lawson, playing alongside Quayle, wasn’t to be outdone. The European Tour member turned for home at 2-under just a shot back of Quayle.
After an untimely bogey on the second (his 11th) where Quayle made eagle, Lawson dropped to four behind. He quickly corrected the ship, however, with four straight birdies beginning at the next to get back to within a shot of the lead.
Birdies on the 8th (his 17th) and a remarkable hole-out from the sand on the last for another birdie were good enough to ensure the Gold Coast-based Victorian’s name was alongside Quayle’s on top of the leaderboard.
“Very happy with the round,” Lawson smiled. “Nine birdies, two bogeys, but I try not to remember them.
“Obviously I haven’t played a lot of competitive golf, but I’ve been doing lots of practice in the last couple of months and my game feels pretty good.”
“Anthony was going really low midway through the round, so I had to do something to keep up. He pushed me along.”
If Lawson had any concerns about rust creeping into his game with the lack of competition due to COVID, his grandstand finish certainly dispelled it.
“I hit a good shot into the 8th, I thought the putt was short, but it got there,” he added.
“Then on the last, I come up short in the bunker. I’ve been working hard on my bunker shots and was fortunate to hole it; a good way to finish.”
Twenty-nine players are at par or better after the opening round on the impressive Coffs Harbour layout.
With the weather predicted to be wet for tomorrow’s final round, officials have opted for a single, two-tee start with competitors playing in groups of four. Play will begin at 7.55 am with the leading group to tee of at 10.20 am.
View the full North Coast Open leaderboard at pga.org.au.
Images: David Tease, Golf NSW