Voke leads Dowling by a shot at Vic Open

John Salvado |

Amateur Billy Dowling is only one shot off the lead at the halfway stage of the Vic Open.
Amateur Billy Dowling is only one shot off the lead at the halfway stage of the Vic Open.

Pint-sized Australian amateur Billy Dowling has punched well above his weight to move within a shot of the halfway lead in the $420,000 men’s Vic Open at Thirteenth Beach.

Dowling defied difficult afternoon conditions as the wind whipped around the links layout, signing for a three-under 69 to be tied for second at eight-under 136.

New Zealander Nick Voke held the outright lead at 135 after carding a bogey-free round of 68 earlier in the day.

Australians Travis Smyth (66) and Jack Munro (68) were tied for second with Dowling, who had not played Thirteenth Beach until this week.

“I knew today was going to be tough and windy so anything under par was pretty good,” said the Gold Coast local.

“But I know how to manage my game pretty well so that gets me through the round.

“The mindset is to take it hole by hole, shot by shot.”

Dowling finished 10th after playing in the final group at the prestigious 2023 Asia-Pacific Amateur at Royal Melbourne in October, an experience that should hold him in good stead over the weekend.

And despite only weighing “somewhere in the 60s (kilograms)” he doesn’t see that as a major issue.

“If I had that extra 20 (kilograms) it would make it a little easier to get the ball around but that’s OK,” said Dowling, who twice shot rounds of 59 at Surfers Paradise GC last year.

“I guess it’s a focus but I’m not too stressed about it because I’ve got plenty of time to get bigger.

“That’s the thing, I’m still an amateur.

“I’m not thinking about turning pro yet and that’s slightly one of the reasons.

“But it’s not a huge deal at the moment because my golf is showing that it’s good enough.”

Leader Voke continued the recent hot streak by New Zealanders on the Australasian PGA Tour.

 Pre-tournament favourite Kazuma Kobori – seeking to become the first man since Robert Allenby in 2005 to win three straight Australasian PGA tournaments – only just made the cut-line at one under after a second round of three-over 75.

Voke has been inspired by Kobori’s recent form and by wins from compatriots Lydia Ko and Steve Alker in the United States.

Nick Voke
Kiwi golfer Nick Voke sits atop the Vic Open leaderboard. (HANDOUT/GOLF AUSTRALIA)

“I think we’re not doing justice by saying ‘two in a row’,” said the 29-year-old from Auckland.

“I think Kazuma’s last six months have been unbelievable, winning Eisenhower (the world amateur), the Western Amateur (in the US). That was unbelievable.

“It’s nice to see a guy kick on like that. Any success for New Zealanders on the world stage, Steve Alker, Lydia Ko is unbelievable. We’re very proud of that.”

Little-known Australian Christopher Fan carded the low round of the day, a bogey-free eight-under 64, to catapult into a tie for fifth at seven under.

But first-round leader Andrew Martin had a tough day, eventually signing for a two-over 74 to slip back to tied 13th at five under.