Relaxed approach works wonders for Brad Kennedy

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Brad Kennedy - TheGolfingHub
Brad Kennedy chalked up 10 birdies to offset a lone bogey at the Toride Kokusai Golf Club's West Course to sit just two shots behind leader Yuta Ikeda in joint second with Ryoma Iwai. Photo: JGTO

A more relaxed approach worked wonders for the usually tense Brad Kennedy as he fired a nine-under-par 61 to charge into early contention at the Golf Partner Pro-Am Tournament on Thursday.

The 47-year-old Australian brilliantly chalked up 10 birdies to offset a lone bogey at the Toride Kokusai Golf Club’s West Course to sit just two shots behind leader Yuta Ikeda in joint second with Ryoma Iwai.

“It was nice to go out there without much expectation. I hit quite a lot of nice shots earlier on, made some nice putts, and I was able to get the pace nicely,” said Kennedy, a three-time JGTO winner with his last victory coming at the 2018 Shigeo Nagashima Invitational SEGA SAMMY Cup.

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“It got me confidence on the green for the rest of the day, and I managed to keep the momentum going.

“I had a nice birdie on par-three 17, which was my eighth hole, before chipping in on 18 and then birdied another on the first hole and put together a good stretch through the middle.

“I made a bad mistake over the green on five but made up for it with a birdie on seven. Still have a lot of work to do, but it’s certainly great to start getting a little bit more control of the game.

“I felt pretty relaxed out there and just try to allow the game to come to me. I was putting too much pressure on my game in the past few tournaments and got frustrated too quickly.

“This week, I was trying to relax and get back to doing what I can control and enjoy the moment out there.”

Kennedy added that he enjoyed a day out on the course with a couple of amateurs as his playing partners.

“I enjoy this format. We had this in the New Zealand Open,” he said.

“It’s nice and fun to play with the amateurs, and I gave them some tips. I love doing that.”

Younghan Song of South Korea was the other top international finishers of the day after he carded a flawless 64 on the East Course to be tied for sixth, while Scott Vincent of Zimbabwe and Thai Gunn Charoenkul are tied eighth and six shots off the pace.

Vincent, who lost in the three-way playoff to Shaun Norris last year, was delighted to start well on his return to the Toride Kokusai GC.

He had the honour of playing alongside Ikeda, who left him in awe with “some of the best golf” he had ever seen. “It’s been a good day. It’s nice and steady out there,” said Vincent.

“I got to play with Yuta, who I think played some of the best golf I’ve ever seen. I got to watch that, so I’m very happy.

Vincent also gave the thumbs up to the tournament’s unique format, allowing amateurs to compete with Tour professionals.

“I like it. The amateurs can learn a lot from the professional, and I think it’s a good experience for them,” said Vincent.

“For us, we don’t mind as we still have to play our own game, and it doesn’t affect us.

“This is not something new as I have played this tournament last year and twice in South Africa.”

JGTO