Canizares, Kang and Sagstrom lead at tight Vic Open

Spain’s Alejandro Canizares has surprised everyone, including himself, in storming to the first round lead at the ISPS Handa Vic Open at 13th Beach.

The 37-year-old, who is ranked 781st in the world, made a mockery of the Creek course after firing a 9-under 63, which included 10 birdies and a lone bogey at the par 4, 16th hole.

“I didn’t have expectations because it’s a long way from home, and you don’t know how you’re going to feel,” said Canizares, the winner of two European Tour events.

“I’m working on the right things, I think, and I’m a good putter. Sometimes I see the hole really big and that’s what happened today.”

Alejandro Canizares Alejandro Canizares (Credit: PGA Australia)

Sitting two strokes behind the Spaniard are Matthew Griffin, who won here in 2014, Travis Smyth, Justin Warren and Queensland’s Jake McLeod.

“It’s just a level of comfort; you’ve been there, you’ve done it, you’ve gone all the way to Sunday…it’s always nice to come back to a place you’ve done well at before,” said Griffin, who plays most of his golf these days in Japan following successful stints on the Korean and now-defunct OneAsia Tours.

A block of eight players sit another shot back on 6-under 66 including Jed Morgan, who won the Australian Amateur title just last month, WA star Min Woo Lee and Zach Murray.

Min Jee Lee Min Jee Lee (Credit: PGA Australia)

Madelene Sagstrom and Haeji Kang lead the chase in the Women’s Vic Open each firing a pair of 65′s to lead the field by a stroke.

The 29-year-old Kang feels right at home in Australia after spending three years at high school on the Gold Coast, where she claimed two Queensland Junior titles and the 2007 Australian Junior crown.

“Every time I come here I feel like it’s my second home, so I feel very comfortable being out here and I like to hear all these accents and I feel like I’m home,” said Kang, who lost in a playoff for the Vic Open in 2012.

Amateur Stephanie Kyriacou heads the Aussies in s share of 15th place at 5-under with Min Jee Lee, Hannah Green and Paige Stubbs next best for the locals in a share of 28th place at 3-under.