Golfer James Nitties speaks at press conference following practice round for the Australian Open tournament at the NSW Club course in Sydney.
Golfer James Nitties speaks at press conference following practice round for the Australian Open tournament at the NSW Club course in Sydney.

‘Speechless’: Aussie’s crazy 10-year world record

James Nitties equalled 1989 British Open champ Mark Calcavecchia's world record for successive birdies on a day of red-hot scoring at the men's Vic Open on Thursday.

Not to be upstaged, his housemate Nick Flanagan shot a career-best round of 10-under to lead by two shots after the opening round at 13th Beach.

Nitties didn't know whether to put their dual successes down to a pre-tournament meal of burritos cooked by Flanagan, although there's every chance they would on the menu again on Thursday night.

Nitties was kicking himself after making a double bogey from the middle of the fairway on his fifth hole.

A couple of hours later he was in golfing heaven having reeled off nine straight birdies, equalling the mark first set by Calcavecchia at the 2009 Canadian Open.

"I don't hold any other world records that I know of, so to be a part of one is pretty cool," joked the 36-year-old.

"I had a good chance for that 10th birdie but I didn't want to break it.

"It's such a longstanding record and I wouldn't do that to Mark.

"It's good to hold it with him." Nitties was among a group of six players tied for second at eight-under 64, also including fellow Australian Jason Scrivener, New Zealander James Anstiss, American Kurt Kitayama, Chile's Hugo Leon and Englishman Callum Shinkwin.

On a day of remarkably low-scoring in benign conditions, 46 players were at five-under or better.

Australia's James Nitties.
Australia's James Nitties.

It shapes as a potentially career-changing week for Australian duo Nitties and Flanagan, as neither currently hold full playing status anywhere overseas and victory would ensure a two-year exemption on the European Tour.

The Vic Open is sanctioned by the European Tour and PGA Tour of Australia.

Not that Flanagan, the 2003 US Amateur champion, was looking that far ahead despite his lowest-ever tournament round.

"I have had a few nine-unders on tour," he said.

"It felt super uncomfortable but it kind of came easy if that makes any sense, which it doesn't really.

"A couple of early putts dropped and I just wasn't trying too hard essentially."

Flanagan, 34, paid tribute to the osteopath who fixed his back on Monday and to Brett "Moose" Stephens, who has helped him with the mental side of the game. Stephens has enjoyed a varied sporting life.

He first made his mark in 133 VFL/AFL games for Fitzroy before becoming tennis legend Pete Sampras's fitness trainer.

Nowadays he helps a variety of sportspeople in a different sphere. "He definitely brings a different perspective to the mental side of things," said Flanagan.

"The golf part is my department but in between shots is really his department."

Golf commentators were flummoxed by Nitties' record and the red-hot rounds carded across the field



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