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Gaunt leading the way after opening round

Australian Daniel Gaunt is setting the early pace in the Gosling's Invitational after his five-under-par 66 during the opening round at Port Royal Golf Course yesterday.

The bogey-free round contained five birdies as Gaunt, originally from Melbourne but now living in Surrey, leads Mike Donald, Jason Thresher and Matt Parziale by four strokes.

Four others are two strokes further back, including defending champion David Wettlaufer, Mike McClean, Henry Smart and Bermuda's Nick Jones.

“I played really nice, my putting was the key today,” Gaunt said. “I saved myself a few shots on a few holes where I had to make par.

“I like it windy but there were a few holes coming back in — 15, 16 — that was causing a bit of havoc for everyone. It [16] might be pretty but it's challenging.

“I was in the right positions off the tee and hit some good iron shots and when you're putting well it frees you up to attack a little bit. It's still three days to go, so I'll see what happens tomorrow.”

Gaunt added: “I'll just play one shot at a time and enjoy it because I've got to go back to work on Monday, back to the freezing cold.”

Wettlaufer will be looking to close the gap on the top four during the second round before the competition switches to Belmont Hills Golf Club for the final two days.

“It was a pretty good ball-striking day, I putted OK but some of the putts I could have made for birdie just didn't drop,” said the American.

“I was quite happy with the way I hit the ball, the wind was picking up and the stretch of holes on the back nine can really eat you up, so I played them well. I'm still in a position to win, over four days anything can happen.

“It was beautiful weather, the golf course was fantastic. Those stretch of holes, 14, 15, 16, even 17 and 18, are as good you're going to play anywhere in the world.”

Wettlaufer insists there was not any extra pressure on him as the defending champion.

“Not really, when you're in a position to win then it becomes more pressure,” he said.

“I'm not panicking yet, I hope to have a solid round tomorrow and stay close to the lead and see what happens. I had great success at Belmont last year, so I'm looking forward to going back to Belmont. After two rounds there I had an eight-shot lead so I sort of coasted in. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon.”

Mike Donald is also in the thick of the race. “I played good, but the back nine played tough with the wind blowing all over the place,” Donald said.

“I putted better than I have putted in a while so I'm thrilled. I started coming here in 1995 for the Bermuda Open and played in about ten Bermuda Opens. When they stopped having that in October I stopped coming and somebody said, ‘You ought to come to the Gosling's' and about 12 years ago I starting coming to the Gosling's.”

Photograph by Lawrence Trott Looking good: David Wettlaufer of Pinehurst, North Carolina, watches as his approach shot reaches the 18th green at Port Royal Golf Course. The Canadian opened the defence of his title with a round of 72 in the Gosling's Invitational yesterday

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Published November 29, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated November 28, 2017 at 10:23 pm)

Gaunt leading the way after opening round

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