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Palanyandi hoping to stay the course

Photograph by Blaire SimmonsEasy does it: William Pugliese, from Toronto, shows his touch around the green with a chip shot on the 11th hole on the first day of the Gosling’s Invitational at Port Royal yesterday

Bermudian Damian Palanyandi leads the way in the Amateur Division after the first day of the Gosling’s International Invitational at Port Royal Golf Course yesterday.

Battling blustering winds, St George’s resident Palanyandi shot a promising round of one-under-par 72 to not only lead the amateur rank but also sit tied for fourth in the overall standings, alongside compatriot Nick Jones, with the pair just four shots off of overall leader, professional David Lawrence, last year’s senior amateur bronze medal-winner

Palanyandi’s consistent round saw him card 12 pars, one eagle and two bogeys, to hold a one-shot lead over Herbie Aikens, of Rockland, Massachusetts, with the pair being paired together for round two today.

“I played a good round today and so I’m pretty pleased,” said 26-year-old Palanyandi.

“It was really tough out there, but I managed to cope pretty well and to be one under is pretty pleasing.

“I’ve been practising pretty well, so I felt quite good coming into the tournament and not too nervous at all, which always helps.

“The conditions made it really tough out there, but it also made it interesting and seeing a few scores lower than mine shows improvements can be made.

“You know the ball was going to move in the air; it was just a case of judging how much.

“I’m trying not to get overly carried away because things can change so quickly in golf. I’ll take it one shot at a time, see what happens and go from there.

“I’m a shot ahead of Herbie, who I’ll be playing with in round two, so that will be interesting.

“We have a very healthy competition; it hypes me up every hole trying to compete with him.

“The field is super competitive, so to be able to hold the lead after the next round would be incredible.”

Leader Lawrence’s round included five birdies on his way to three under to see him hold a one-shot lead in the professional standings over two former PGA tour players, Mathias Gronberg, who scored a memorable hole-in-one on the third hole, and P.H. Horgan, moving into the second day.

Horgan’s round of 69 does, however, see him hold a promising lead in the Senior Professional Division to sit six shots ahead of closest rivals and past winners David Wettlaufer, of Pinehurst, North Carolina, and Kirk Hanefeld, of South Hamilton, Massachusetts.

Other notable performances from local players include Scott Barnett and Craig Christensen, who both shot a round of 78 to sit joint 22nd overall, while Steven Duxbury is just one shot behind in joint 27th.

Reflecting on the return of the event, which includes a field of 105 players from 14 countries competing, Malcolm Gosling Jr, whose family run Gosling Rum company are the main sponsors, spoke of his joy at seeing the tournament continue to grow year after year.

“The event is certainly bigger and better than ever before,” said Gosling, who shot a round one total of 90 in the Amateur Division.

“We had 35 people still on the waiting list trying to compete along with the 105 who are.

“Hopefully in the future we will be able to expand the field and add another course to host everyone.

“We promote the tournament throughout the year to clubs throughout the United States, Europe and other places around the world.

“It’s all about creating awareness of this event to begin with and showing all the different aspects we have to offer because it is very unique.

“We have a great balance between competitive golf and that camaraderie off of the course and competitors spending time together.

“The level of competition gets stronger every year and we have a host of professionals who have played to a really high level and that’s great to get them down here.

“It’s amazing for Bermuda as well. We work closely with the tourism authority because they see the impact it makes with people going away and spreading the word around the world.

“It’s great for people to experience the island and it’s great for promoting Bermuda.”