Louis Dobbelaar in action at Royal Queensland this week – photo Bruce Young

20-year-old Queensland rookie professional, Louis Dobbelaar, has already experienced a rewarding few weeks, but after taking the opening round lead at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland things could potentially get significantly better over the next few days.

Several weeks ago and just a few weeks after turning professional, Dobbelaar achieved the most important milestone in the early stages of any young professional golfer’s career, namely a place to play. Dobbelaar finished runner-up at the PGA Tour Latino America’s qualifying venue in Florida and gained access to what is essentially a feeder tour for the Korn Ferry and eventually the PGA Tour.

The 2016 New Zealand Amateur Champion and 2021 Australian Amateur career has already achieved significant titles in amateur golf in this region but in the US this year he finished off his amateur career with victories at the prestigious North and South Amateur at Pinehurst and the Dogwood International in Atlanta.

Coached by highly regarded Sunshine Coach mentor, Grant Field, Dobbelaar joined one of his ‘Field Stablemates’ Cameron Smith on a trip to the US in 2021 where he practiced and spent time with Australia’s number one male golfer and so he entered the professional ranks with a significant background behind him in amateur golf.

Dobbelaar was out in the afternoon field on day one and got his tournament off to the near perfect start when holing his approach for eagle at the 2nd hole with a sand iron and followed that up with birdies at the next four holes. His only blemish came when dropping a shot at the par 3 8th hole but he leads by one over fellow Queenslanders Aaron Pike and another former Australian Amateur Champion in Jed Morgan.

Queensland based New South Welshman, Dylan Perry is another shot back along with yet another former Australian Amateur Champion Victorian, Andrew Martin, Queenslander Michael Wright and New South Welshman James Grierson.

“Yeah, I mean, that’s a pretty cool feeling,” said the leader.  “My game definitely feels good, so just got to keep trusting myself and doing all the good things right.”

Referring to the fact that he has a 6.35 tee time tomorrow Dobbelaar is aware that his good start in the windier afternoon conditions today opens up a good opportunity to consolidate his standing tomorrow.

“I mean, got to get home and have a good rest and get some good food into me, but it wasn’t too windy this arvo.  I know it can get pretty windy around here, so hopefully that’s a good thing.”

Dobbelaar was asked about the difference between playing events as an amateur and playing for a significant purse.

It’s definitely something new to me.  I think it’s probably a bit overwhelming at first when you haven’t really earnt much, so once I accepted that I think I can just keep on doing my stuff and just play golf after that.”

Pre-tournament favourite Min Woo Lee has made a solid start to be at 3 under but he is tied for 9th place and four from the lead.

The women’s event, the WPGA Championship is led by Victorian Su Oh whose round of 66 leaves her three ahead of recently turned professional Grace Kim.

Oh, who has played the LPGA Tour in the last few years, won the Ladies Masters at Royal Pines several years ago but is surprised that she has performed so well in Queensland conditions which are not all that familiar to her Victorian background.

“I actually don’t like grainy (greens) and I don’t like the heat. So I’m glad I shot a good score today, but hopefully a second win in Queensland would be quite nice

“There were not too many mistakes, I think I just made one bad shot. Other than that, everything else was quite good.”

Men’s and Women’s scores

Su Oh – photo PGA of Australia