A SYDNEY golf teacher and an up-and-comer from Murwillumbah upstaged some of the biggest names in Australian golf to lead the $50,000 Wagga Pro-Am.
The Ridge's Alexander Simpson and northern NSW 23-year-old Lucas Higgins fired rounds of 64 at Wagga Country Club on Thursday to take the overnight lead coming into the second and final round.
There was plenty of good scoring as perfect conditions and an immaculate course greeted some of the best talent in Australian golf.
Simpson produced the best round of the morning group to grab an early lead, before Higgins produced the best golf of the afternoon to join him at eight under.
There are plenty of big names among the chasing pack with Marcus Fraser and 2017 champion Jordan Zunic within striking distance at -4.
Brendan Smith sits one shot behind the leaders at outright third, seven under, with four golfers at -6 and another three at -5.
Special guest and champion Australian golfer Peter Lonard shot an even par round of 71, while defending champion Matthew Millar sits at two under, alongside women's professional Stephanie Na.
It is Higgins' first visit to Wagga and arrived fresh from missing the cut at the NSW Open.
The 23-year-old could not have been happier with his opening round.
"It was really good. I just putted well and didn't really make any mistakes, which is good," Higgins said.
"I've got to go play my game (Friday) and hopefully it is good enough to win."
Simpson has been to Wagga three or four times, spread across a number of years.
He was happy to find himself in contention for the title for the first time.
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"I always enjoy coming down here, the course is awesome, it's in really good nick this year, it always is, but it's nice to play on a dry course," Simpson said.
"I haven't had an ideal prep, I suppose no one has, with all the weather and I've got plenty of work stuff going on so to finish eight under was a good result.
"There were a lot of good scores (on Thursday) so there is still a lot of work to do (on Friday) but I'm in a good position."
Simpson, who missed out on his tour status last season, does not have a particular number in his head going into the final round.
"I don't usually have a number in mind, I play it as it comes. I try and do the best I can every hole so it doesn't change too much," he said.
Higgins, however, believes he'll need to come out and shoot after round of 64 to win the tournament.
"I think much the same," he said.
"The scoring's very hot so I think a similar round should take care of things.
"We'll see what the conditions bring, it was perfect (Thursday) afternoon so hopefully we get just as nice weather."
Higgins had been in good form ahead of last week's NSW Open. He finished third at the TPS event at Bonnie Doon earlier in the month.
"I've had a few Pro-Am wins and I'm just trying to play as much as I can and build some confidence really," he said.
The leaders will play in the one group on Friday with spectators welcome at Wagga Country Club, free of charge.
The 'party hole' at the 14th made it's Pro-Am debut on Thursday.
-8 Alexander Simpson, Lucas Higgins
-7 Brendan Smith
-6 Matthew Stieger, Lincoln Tighe, Damien Jordan, Nathan Miller
-5 Guy Wall, Jayden Cripps, Neven Basic
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