Demsey hits his straps with fellow Americans

BY MARTIN DAVIDSON
Last updated 07:11 13/03/2009

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American golfer Todd Demsey is the first to admit he is not the best of travellers.

He didn't sleep a wink during a long-haul flight to New Zealand last week and was not surprised when he failed to flatter at the New Zealand PGA Championship in Christchurch.

He only arrived, tired and jetlagged, on the Monday before the tournament and went on to miss the cut.

Close to a week later Demsey has rediscovered his game and jointly leads the $US600,000 ($NZ1.2 million) New Zealand Open at The Hills after the first round on the outskirts of Arrowtown.

He heads into today's second round in a positive frame of mind after shooting a seven-under-par 65 to share floor space atop the leaderboard with compatriots Josh Teater and Alex Prugh.

These three held a two-stroke advantage over another American Martin Piller, Australian Stephen Dartnall and Korean Seung-su Han.

Thirteen players were bunched on 68, including New Zealander Steve Alker, fresh from his ninth career victory in Christchurch.

Alker was joined by, among others, Australian veteran Peter Senior and his compatriot Adam Bland, and Argentine Miguel Angel Carballo.

Only three New Zealanders were inside the top 30, with Alker joined by Grant Waite, and Wellington amateur Thomas Spearman-Burn, who posted matching 70s to be tied for 28th.

The US-based Waite hit 14 of 14 fairways but the world's leading amateur, Danny Lee, was not so accurate.

Lee, 18, had to content himself with a 71 after stumbling home. He moved to four-under leaving the 13th but bogeyed three of his closing four holes.

He was off his game but still under par despite hitting just six of 14 fairways, 12 of 18 greens and requiring 31 putts.

Living legend Sir Bob Charles set yet another record in his storied career by becoming the oldest person in history to contest a Nationwide Tour event.

Two days short of his 73rd birthday, Charles signed for a round of 73 which included two double bogeys and five birdies, leaving him one in front of younger New Zealanders such as David Smail, Gareth Paddison, Josh Geary, Mark Purser and Grant Moorhead.

Demsey and Teater struck the best of the weather on an overcast day which dawned still before an afternoon southwesterly ensured their scores were never threatened by the later starters.

Prugh, by contrast, had to combat bracing southwesterly winds, an inconvenience he made light off with an outstanding round containing one dropped shot.

Demsey had only played the course once before yesterday, on Monday when it was cold and windy.

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"After playing on Monday I thought par would be a good round here this week," said Demsey, who lost his PGA Tour card last year and has reassembled on the second tier Nationwide circuit to get his game back in shape.

"But I figure it will blow for my afternoon round tomorrow so I wanted to get as many (birdies) as I could today."

-NZPA

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