Fresh Coletta sets the pace in Classic | Ralph Lauren

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Brett Coletta has turned Australia’s strict virus protocol conditions to his advantage, opting to remain in the United States in the off-season to recharge his batteries.

The Victorian, who used the break to do some fishing rather than come to Australia and quarantine, shot an eight-under-par 63 on Thursday to jointly lead the Korn Ferry Tour’s Suncoast Classic in Florida with American George Cunningham and Canadian Albin Choi.

Coletta’s round included eight birdies and an eagle, with the 24-year-old draining some big putts.

“I putted really well today, when you have that kind of number you probably have to putt pretty well,” he said.

Coletta said he was initially planning to return Down Under to spend time with family over Christmas, but decided against it with the country’s strict quarantining laws.

Instead, he enjoyed a low-key off-season which kept him fresh for the tournament.

“The quarantining and the cost to get back to Australia was immense so I weighed my options and stayed here doing some hobbies,” said Coletta.

“It (time-off) was really chilled, low key. I really enjoyed it, went fishing.

“I like to be fresh as I can and I’m not the one to go beat balls and I just kept on top of what I needed to be on top of.

“I made sure I was 100 per cent fresh for this event … it’s going to feel like a sprint this week and it’s going to be a super-low four rounder so my off season was low-key and chilled.”

Compatriot Mark Henby is also among the frontrunners.

The 49-year-old Melburnian shot a 65 to be just two strokes behind Coletta, in a tie for fifth.

One shot behind Coletta, Cunningham and Choi is American Dan McCarthy.

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