A slashing inward nine has given Will Heffernan the first-round lead at the 110th Riversdale Cup.

Heffernan, capping a good day for Royal Melbourne which also has Darcy Brereton and the impressive Matias Sanchez in the top five, poured in five birdies from the second through the ninth to cap a superb opening six-under round of 66 at Riversdale Golf Club.

The 2017 Portsea Amateur winner leads by two over rising Sydneysider Nathan Barbieri and a pair of Queenslanders in Doug Klein and Jarrod Stirling.

Alongside the Victorians at three under and a share of fifth are South Australian Jack Thompson, Queenslander Connor Edmonds and West Australian pair Ben Ferguson and Haydn Barron.

Heffernan endured three bogeys in his round, highlighting just how dangerous his short game can be in making eight birdies to seize control.

Of the chasing pack, Klein remarkably hit all 18 greens in regulation for the first time in his young career.

“It was one of those days when the ball-striking was pretty good … and I was lucky enough to make a few five-footers on return putts when I missed the birdie tries, so it was a nice day. I hope I can have a few more like it,” said Klein a pupil of Sunshine Coast-based coach Wayne Rostron.

“I’m happy with how my game has improved, but Wayne’s just working on the mental side of things now, so when I can get that ironed out, everything’s going OK.”

Ferguson, in his second Riversdale Cup, said a win would be huge before he tried to emulate his successes, particularly in Europe, of 2017.

“I’m still trying to get the monkey off my back with a national ranking series win. I’ve been close a lot of times and it’s just a matter of getting over the line for a win soon,” the WA state representative said.

The second of four rounds will be played tomorrow with free entry.

There’s nothing like a brush with a hero to focus a rising star.

So imagine what’s rushing through Doey Choi’s mind after the Sydneysider spent hours playing alongside two legends of the women’s international game in the past fortnight.

Choi, already raring to go after finishing high school last year, had a huge “eye-opening experience” playing alongside LPGA Tour star Christina Kim at the Australian Ladies Classic in Bonville, then backing up at the NSW Women’s Open last week to play alongside the legendary Laura Davies.

And her drive was clearly evident today as she shot to the early lead at the Riversdale Cup in south-eastern Melbourne.

Choi overcame a slow start to peel off four birdies from mid-round to post a two-under-par 71, one stroke clear of Gold Coast duo Becky Kay and Hye Park after the morning phase at Riverdsale Golf Club.

And the Concord member was quick to praise the big names with whom she’d shared some fascinating hours in the previous fortnight against the best of the Ladies European Tour and beyond.

“I played quite good (golf) in Bonville, finished T24 and was just behind Steph Bunque as leading amateur, it was a really good experience and to play with Christina (Kim), who’s a bit of a legend, was really good,” Choi enthused.

“Then at Coffs, I got to play with Laura the first two days and that was fun and exciting and I learnt so much … and to play in front of those galleries was really fun.

“Laura told me she doesn’t think about things like money on the course, she genuinely plays because she loves the game, and I think that’s really important because I think there’s a lot of people out there caught up in other things and not really playing for the love of the game.

“And I could see that when I was playing with her.

“Christina was just so cool – so laid back and she got along with kids so well and has a great sense of humour, so it was fun playing with her and she gave us an insight into her last few years on tour and what she’s experienced.

“It was such a great experience – I’d love to do it again. It definitely puts the fire in your belly to try to get back there again.”

All of which is tough news for the #RivCup field as Choi pushes towards her goal of becoming the top amateur in Australia this year.

“That would be really exciting. I’ve had a couple of rough years and now that I’ve finished school I want to try to play as much as I can and make the most of the next year,” she said.

“I feel much more free now, being able to play and travel, because I didn’t get the chance to do that much in the past two years, so it’s fun again.”

There was no hint of Choi’s charge today when she started par-bogey-bogey.

“I thought, `It’s going to be a very long day!’. But a few birdies always helps that.

“I was quite consistent today, and really didn’t miss too many fairways or greens, so when I had an opportunity I managed to make the most of them, which was good.”

Park began in a similar vein, making a tough double-bogey from the left side of the 10th, her first hole. But after that, the Royal Pines member was particularly impressive and notched four birdies to join Kay one off the pace.

Kay also had a mixed bag, pouring in five birdies against four bogeys to leave the multiple Australian representative well placed for the second round.