Locals leap to the fore at WA Open

·2-min read

Braden Becker will have plenty of support as he attempts to convert a four-shot overnight lead into a maiden Australasian tour victory at the WA Open.

WA product Becker broke clear from a quality field on Saturday when he followed earlier consecutive rounds of 66 with a seven-under 65, making his second eagle on the last hole to get to 19-under at Royal Fremantle GC.

The 29-year-old Becker, who leads from NSW's Nathan Barbieri (66), has been well supported by friends from Mandurah, where he lives and works in the Mandurah Country Club pro shop.

"I didn't hit it my best today if I'm absolutely honest, but I putted the dots off it," Becker said.

Amateur star Hayden Hopewell impressed all on his home course as he jumped to outright third, one shot further back, with a stunning round of 63 which contained nine birdies and broke the course record by one shot with birdie on the last.

The 20-year-old Hopewell won the WA Open 18 months ago when the field was much reduced owing to COVID-19 restrictions and he will also have huge local backing as he attempts to repeat in his title defence.

Sydney schoolboy Jeff Guan went off the boil slightly with a 73 but he shares fourth place with American Derek Ackerman (68), although the title now appears out of reach from nine shots behind Becker.

Eyeing a two-year exemption on the Australasian tour if he wins, Becker vowed to stick to the game plan that has worked so far.

"I've got a four-shot lead because I've been playing the way I play. If I hit a couple of bad shots, I hit a couple of bad shots.

"It's just for me to deal with tomorrow and hopefully I hit more good ones than bad ones."

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