Pearce sets new mark in Classic
LawnMaster Classic leader Daniel Pearce, the man from Ashburton via Hawke's Bay, can rightly claim the Hokowhitu course record after his 7-under-par 65 yesterday.
The record should go his way because the black-tee course hadn't been used since the new par-3 16th hole was opened on November 30.
The previous course record of 63 was jointly held by West Australian Michael Sim, now on the US Web.com Tour, and former New Zealand representative Mark Smith (Bay of Plenty). Sim set it in the New Zealand amateur in 2005 and Smith in the 2002 LawnMaster.
Pearce's round sizzled in the still of the early-morning air yesterday, when he was 6-under after seven holes, including an eagle on the par-5 14th.
He just missed another shortie for birdie and also lipped out on his last hole.
"On the front nine I holed everything," Pearce said. "That's as good as I've done in a while."
Tall and resplendent in his lime green ensemble, Pearce has been in good nick. He won the NZPGA Q-School at Taupo, was runner-up in the Masterton-Eketahuna pro-am a week ago and tied for fourth at the Martinborough pro-am on Tuesday.
The LawnMaster is only his second visit to the Manawatu Golf Club. The first was in a national interprovincial with Hawke's Bay.
"I have been looking forward to this week," Pearce said. "I just turned pro before the NZ Open so this is only my fourth event as a pro.
"The course is fantastic, the greens are beautiful."
His best as an amateur was in winning the North Island strokeplay at Lochiel. He made New Zealand teams but never the Eisenhower Trophy quartet.
"You don't have to be a top amateur to be a top professional," he said.
His goal is to secure a berth on the Asian Tour, a doorway into European events.
Just one shot shy of Pearce on 66 was David Klein, the pro from Te Anau in Southland. He was in the group behind Pearce and he too shot the lights out on the opening nine at 5 under.
"I hit the ball very well and started to make putts," he said.
Klein has his Australasian PGA Tour card after being the leading Kiwi at Q-School in Melbourne last month, and last year won the Taranaki Open Charles Tour event at Ngamotu. The 21-year-old turned pro at 18 straight out of school because amateur golf down south didn't inspire him and he would rather play for himself.
He came to New Zealand from Germany at the age of 14 with his family.
It's hard to make ends meet chasing the money in New Zealand.
"It's better than sitting at home doing nothing," he said. "If you play well in Australia, Asia or Europe you can make a lot of money."
Former Manawatu-Wanganui amateur Hamish Robertson, and Josh Geary, flew in from Melbourne yesterday morning after their unsuccessful attempts to qualify for the British Open. Robertson admitted he was a little weary but was glad of the late tee time and shot 74.
He has been a pro for eight years, works at his golf as well as his computer business, and is based at the plush Noosa Springs course in Queensland.
Geary was well in touch in a tie for sixth with his 68 and that included a lost-ball seven on the par 5 14th.
Sitting poised in third at 5-under were: Harry Bateman (Wellington), Hastings pro Leighton James, the Cambridge Pro-Am winner in November, and Steven Kuggeleijn (Lochiel).