Former U.S. Amateur champ grabs share of lead at Vic Open

Nick Flanagan golf AP/Morry Gash

Former U.S. Amateur champ grabs share of lead at Vic Open

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Former U.S. Amateur champ grabs share of lead at Vic Open

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Former U.S. Amateur champion Nick Flanagan remains on course to win his first European Tour event, but he’s got company at the top of the $1 million ISPS Handa Vic Open leaderboard.

Flanagan, who defeated Casey Wittenberg to win the 2003 U.S. Amateur, returned a 4-under 68 to go with his opening 62 to move to 14 under par after 36 holes. He shares the lead with fellow Australian Jason Scrivener, who shot a 66.

Winning the U.S. Amateur doesn’t automatically lead to professional success, as Flanagan has discovered. Life hasn’t been a complete bowl of cherries since he defeated Wittenberg at the 37th hole at Oakmont Country Club. The 34-year-old has spent most of his professional career on the Web.com Tour, where he has four wins. However, he hasn’t played the Web.com full time since 2016.

The New South Wales native is back in Australia, and finished 19th on the 2018 ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australia order of merit.

Flanagan is making just his 16th start in a European Tour event. A victory would give him a full European Tour card.

“I’m probably happier with today’s round considering it was backing up that 62,” Flanagan said. “To be up there at the top of the leaderboard is obviously great and we’ll go out on the weekend and just kind of keep doing what I’m doing.”

Scrivener, 29, won’t be easy to beat. He has three top 10s in his first four starts on the 2018-19 European Tour, including third in the Honma Hong Kong Open last November. His only finish outside the top 10 was 16th in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“Two solid day’s work,” Scrivener said. “Can’t really fault it. I played nicely, so looking forward to the weekend.

“Any time your game’s in a good place and you’re constantly making cuts and putting yourself in contention, it’s good for confidence. I just feel like over the last six months I’ve made some big improvements in my game and steadily progressing the last couple of years.”

Wade Ormsby made it an Australian 1,2,3 at the top of the leaderboard with a 66, one shot back at 13 under.

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