This week’s Masters always had the makings for being something extra special and it lived up to expectations on Thursday as reigning champion Jordan Spieth seized a two-shot lead after the opening round.The American’s love affair with the challenging Augusta National layout continued in flawless style as he fired a six-under-par 66 to storm to the top of a high-quality leaderboard in the first of the year’s four major championships.Bidding to become only the fourth player to claim back-to-back Masters victories, world number two Spieth took advantage of relatively calm morning conditions before coping superbly with tricky gusting winds as he kept his card bogey-free.”I would have signed for two-under today and not even played the round, knowing the conditions that were coming up,” said the 22-year-old Spieth, who is aiming to emulate Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods with consecutive Green Jackets.”Got a lot out of the round with what I felt like was kind of average-ish ball striking. Just scored the ball extremely well, which is something I’ve been struggling with this season.”I put it up there with one of the best rounds I’ve played, one of the best rounds I’ve scored.”Spieth ended the day two shots ahead of New Zealander Danny Lee and Irishman Shane Lowry, with Englishmen Justin Rose, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, Dane Soren Kjeldsen and Spaniard Sergio Garcia a further stroke back after opening with 69s.Rory McIlroy bogeyed the final hole for a 70 while world number one Jason Day, the hottest player in the game after winning six times in his last 13 starts, got to five-under before dropping five shots in his last four holes for a 72.advertisementShaking off a run of inconsistent form in recent weeks on the PGA Tour, Spieth sank a six-footer at the third, a 13-footer at the sixth and a four-footer at the eighth to reach the turn in three-under 33.He picked up further shots at the 10th and 13th, sank a clutch 15-footer to save par at the 16th and finished in style by rolling in a six-foot putt at the last before pumping his fist in celebration.Casey, who played in Spieth’s company, was hugely impressed by the reigning champion’s 66.”That was a flawless round of golf,” said Casey, who shot a 69 on an increasingly blustery day. “One of the toughest days I’ve ever seen around Augusta National … it was great to have a front row seat to watch that.”Spieth won the PGA Tour’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions in January, but struggled to string together four good rounds in his next five strokeplay starts before returning this week to the welcome surroundings of Augusta National.He tied for second on his Masters debut in 2014, then last year stunned the golf world as he completed a wire-to-wire victory by four shots, matching Woods’ tournament record low of 18-under 270 for 72 holes.”I enjoy this tournament more than anywhere else,” said Spieth. “We don’t have any, or many, distractions in our preparation.”While Spieth flourished in Thursday’s opening round, former world number one Ernie Els made a nightmare start as he six-putted from just two feet at the par-four first to run up a mind-boggling nine.It was the highest ever Masters score on that hole and left South African Els, who has struggled badly with his short putting for more than a year, shaking his head in disbelief. He went on to shoot 80, tying his worst round at Augusta.”It’s unexplainable,” said Els, a four-times major winner. “I couldn’t get the putter back. I’ve made thousands of three-footers and I just couldn’t take it back.”Australian Day, seeking a second consecutive major victory after winning his first at the PGA Championship in August, was just one stroke off the pace until he bogeyed the 15th.He then triple-bogeyed the par-three 16th after hitting his tee shot into water, reloading and three-putting before he dropped another shot at the 17th.
Organisers of the AHEPA-NUGAS Business Breakfast couldn’t be happier with the turn out this year, with more than 125 young budding and established professionals turning out for the event in MarchEmceed by NUGAS Victoria president Tass Sgardelis and moderated by AHEPA youth governor Jiannis Tsaousis, the second collaboration between the two organisations saw an insightful panel discussion on ‘Building Your Career Brand: How to Stand Out’. Giving their personal insights and tips on their respective industries were eminent Philhellene, former Victorian premier and Beyond Blue founding chairman Hon. Jeff Kennett AC, founding managing partner of Boston Consulting Group Australia and NZ and Victoria University Chancellor George Pappas, and Asia Pacific’s leading digital marketing and brand strategist and CEO of PENSO, Constantine Frantzeskos.The panellists shared invaluable information regarding their personal career highs and lows, in addition to their business and personal philosophies, views on university reforms and an analysis of empirical work experience regarding career advancement.Those who attended were given the opportunity to be seated alongside some of Australia’s leading professionals from a range of industries including finance, accounting, management consulting, law, community and public service, engineering, construction, arts and culture, science, medicine and technology. Amongst the community leaders offering their services on the day were Victoria’s Shadow Attorney General and State Member for Hawthorn John Pesutto MLA; federal Member for Calwell and deputy chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Immigration, Maria Vamvakinou MHR, and Australia’s first Greek-born Queen’s Counsel, Olyvia Nikou QC.The morning also featured a presentation by the president of the Greek Community and managing partner of Moray and Agnew Lawyers, Bill Papastergiadis, who shared his experiences regarding the growth of the firm and the development of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria.National president of AHEPA Christine Lynch OAM addressed the panellists, thanking them for their time and invaluable advice and insight for those gathered on the day. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram