MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian James Nitties made nine successive birdies in the opening round of his home Vic Open in Barwon Heads on Thursday, matching Mark Calcavecchia’s 10-year-old record.
Starting from the 10th hole at 13th Beach Golf Links, Melbourne man Nitties made his remarkable run from the par-four 15th through to the par-five fifth at the European Tour co-sanctioned event.
The 36-year-old’s streak set a European Tour record while equalling former British Open winner Calcavecchia’s U.S. PGA Tour mark set in the second round of the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey in 2009.
A par on the par-four sixth ended his bid to move past Calcavecchia but the Australian had few regrets.
“I don’t hold any other world records that I know of so to be a part of one is pretty cool,” said Nitties after carding an eight-under-par 64 to stand in a share of second two strokes behind leader Nick Flanagan.
“I had a good chance for that 10th birdie but I didn’t want to break it.
“It’s such a long-standing record and I wouldn’t do that to Mark … It’s good to hold it with him.”
Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger roled in nine successive birdies at the 2017 Maybank Championship in Malaysia, a European Tour co-sanctioned event, but his haul was not officially recognized as a record because the round was played with preferred lies.
Nitties’ blitz was the highlight of a day of low scoring, with his house-mate Flanagan, who won the U.S. Amateur championship in 2003, roaring home with three birdies and his second eagle on the par-five seventh in his last five holes.
Flanagan finished with a 10-under 62 to finish two shots ahead of a group of six players tied for second on eight-under, including Nitties, American Kurt Kitayama, Chile’s Hugo Leon and late-finishing local Jason Scrivener.
Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts was two further adrift in a group tied for 14th on six-under after shooting a 66.
The Vic Open is also the second stop on the LPGA circuit, with the 36-hole 13th Beach links running both the men’s and women’s events concurrently.
England’s Felicity Johnson carded a flawless eight-under 65 for a two-shot lead over the second-placed trio of Canadian Anne-Catherine Tanguay, American Kim Kaufman and local hope Su Oh.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Mulvenney