McLeod fires bogey-free 65 to sit T2 in Portugal

Aussie golfer Jack McLeod could be raising a toast at the European Tour’s ‘Last Chance Saloon’ after his blistering start to the Portugal Masters at Vilmoura.

It has not been the maiden European Tour season for the Queenslander had wished but then the 25-year old could still be celebrating holding onto his Tour card thanks to a very impressive bogey-free 65 on the sun-splashed Portuguese Algarve.

Jake McLeod Jake McLeod tees off at the European Tour co-sanctioned 2018 Australian PGA Championship (Credit: PGA Australia)

McLeod teed-up in the €1.5m event, and the last for those looking to retain full 2020 Tour membership, lying in 159th place on the Tour’s Race to Dubai, and in order for last year’s New South Wales Open champion to hold onto full membership in his rookie season, he needs to by lying 117th or better on the Race to Dubai at the close of the Portuguese event to retain his Tour card.

The Townsville-born McLeod kick-started his Tour card quest with three birdies on each nine of the Dom Pedro Victoria course to be sharing second place and two shots adrift of South African Luis De Jager.

At this stage, the effort is projected to see McLeod jump 43 spots and move to 116th on the Race to Dubai. If so, that would ensure him his 2020 Tour card.

McLeod’s first round effort matched his lowest round on the Tour and that was a similar 65 on day one of last February’s inaugural Saudi International.

“This Portugal course is quite wide off the tee, so you can get up there and really give it a rip,” said McLeod.

“But it can be quite penalising around the greens if you miss in the wrong spots – they’re running quite fast this week. I found myself on a lot of the good sides today – hopefully I can keep doing that.”

McLeod, and one of a big contingent of six Aussies in the event, has contested 32 events this season and earning just over €172,000 in prizemoney but a closer looks at his efforts reveals that he has made the cut in just 12 of those events, with a best result of T19 and that was last Decembeer in the co-sanctioned Australian PGA.

Hurting McLeod’s rookie season was missing eight of nine halfway cuts from May’s Volvo China Open up to and including August’s Omege European Masters in Switzerland.

“This season has been pretty average, so I’ve come out here to Portugual and I’ll have a bit of fun,” he said.

“I’m probably heading to Q-School unless I get the win.”