FINGAL, Australia – Jim Herman shot a course-record 10-under-par 62 on Thursday to take a four-stroke lead after the first round of the Moonah Classic.
The American was the best of the afternoon group on the Moonah Links course, overtaking Australian Andre Stolz, whose 66 from the morning had led much of the day.
Jim Carter, Bobby MacWhinnie and Paul Sheehan were tied for third with 67s in the jointly sanctioned Nationwide and Australasian PGA tour event.
The 32-year-old Herman, who was a regular golf partner of Donald Trump while working as an assistant pro in New Jersey, bested the 63 shot by Robert Allenby at the 2005 Australian Open.
Herman, who failed to make the cut at last week’s New Zealand Open, almost did not make the trip to New Zealand and Australia – he was an alternate only admitted at the last moment.
“As of four days before New Zealand’s event I wasn’t planning on coming so it’s a blessing and I want to try to take full advantage of it,” Herman said. “It seems like if I can get something going early I’m pretty good but if things get rocky for me it seems like I’m always battling for the second and third day.”
Herman, from Cincinnati, Ohio, had five birdies on each nine, playing the back side first.
Robert Gates, who won the season-opening New Zealand Open last week, shot 71, as did Peter Lonard, who won the 2003 Australian Open when it was played at Moonah Links. Lonard was making his first start since returning from a two-month injury layoff.
Former U.S. Amateur champion Nick Flanagan had a 73 and 2009 champion Ewan Porter shot 74.
The early starters made the most of calmer conditions on the course designed by five-time British Open winner Peter Thompson.
“I missed a lot of putts early, I could have birdied every hole on the back nine.” Stolz said of his opening nine of 32.
Meanwhile, Nationwide Tour tournament director Jim Duncan said Thursday the future of the Moonah Links event would not be settled for several months after a review is conducted.
He said it was likely consideration would be given to moving the tournament from Moonah Links, which is on the Mornington Peninsula and doesn’t attract large galleries, to a “sandbelt” course closer to Melbourne.
Tournament promoter Tony Roosenburg said the Moonah Links event was in doubt, but Duncan described Roosenburg’s comments, which included claims the Nationwide Tour as a whole was struggling financially, as “disappointing.”
“We’re going to play exactly the same amount of events on our schedule this year as we did last year,” Duncan said. “Every year that we come down here all the groups go back and evaluate where we want to go. I don’t think that process for next year has even begun to start.”
Duncan said that a Nationwide tournament going ahead here next year was “still pretty good from our perspective.”