James Nitties takes the lead at Australian Open after stunning late surge

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A stunning late surge from James Nitties sees the journeyman leading the 2016 Emirates Australian Open.

Long after Channel Seven had finished their broadcast, and as the golf media were applying the finishing touches to their wrap-up’s of day two at the Australian Open, James Nitties kept making birdies and changed everything.

Kiwi Ryan Fox has looked solid for the first two days and followed his blemish-free, opening round of 68 with the same score on Friday to finish the day in outright second place.

The fact that anyone was in outright any place near the top of a leaderboard was a surprise so few expected anyone else to spring into the lead. And fewer were expecting it to be James Nitties.

“Its been a while since Ive been up the top of the leader board in an Australian Open or a PGA, so, its going to be pretty nerve wracking out there, but its a good feeling,” Nitties said. “Its fun to be in the mix at a large event.”

Nitties went on to describe a funny incident late in the round when his playing partner’s shot hit his golf ball. Check out the last few minutes of the video interview below.

An even par first nine holes saw Nitties in a good position at 2-under par, but with the cut looking like even par, birdies needed to be made. And make birdies Nitties did.

The 34-year-old former PGA Tour player played the final eight holes (on the front nine at Royal Sydney) in an incredible 7-under par to roar into the lead.

For most of the day there were close to 20 players within two or three shots of the lead and no one could muster the lead for themselves.

Adam Scott’s morning surge had seen the 2013 Masters champion rise up the leaderboard to 6-under. Jordan Spieth looked to be eyeing off a late tee time on Saturday and veteran’s Richard Green, Peter Lonard and Rod Pampling were also within a few shots of the lead.

Throw in a number of  plucky young guns such as Curtis Luck, Lucas Herbert and Min Woo Lee and things were getting more congested than the Harbour tunnel during peak hour.