Danny Lee fires to lead PGA qualifying event

00:25, Nov 15 2012
Danny Lee
BATTLING: After a strong start to qualifying school, Danny Lee is now struggling at the final stage.

There's life yet for Danny Lee's PGA Tour hopes for 2013.

New Zealand's top-ranked golfer has made an excellent start to his second stage PGA Tour qualifying school event in California today, firing a seven-under par 65 to lead the 75-strong field at Bear Creek Golf Club.

Lee has been forced to go through two stages of q-school to retain his full playing status on the PGA Tour next year, having finished a disappointing 2012 rookie season in 167th position on the money list.

He'll have to finish this week's four-round event in the top 19 and ties to progress to the final stage event later this month, and he's off to a superb start after carding six birdies, an eagle and a bogey in the first round.

The 22-year-old turned in five-under 31 and got to eight-under after an eagle two at the par-four 13th and a birdie at the par-five 14th, but he suffered his only dropped shot of the day at the par-three 16th to sign for a 65 and take a one shot lead over three players into tomorrow's second round.

Compatriot Steve Alker, who had a disappointing year on the second-tier Web.com Tour despite a great week at the British Open in July, when he finished 19th as a qualifier, did not fare so well at Bear Creek, a three-over 75 leading him tied for 59th and five shots off the cut mark.

Fellow Web.com Tour player Tim Wilkinson made a good start to his qualifying event at Hombre Golf Club in Florida, a four-under par 67 seeing the Florida-based left-hander finish the opening round in a six-way share of ninth place.

Wilkinson, 57th on the Web.com Tour money list this year, turned in even par but four birdies on back nine, including three in his last five holes, set him up nicely. The top 19 players and ties from that field will progress to the final stage.

Fabian Gomez of Argentina leads that event after an eight-under 63.

Meanwhile, Josh Geary completed a pretty good day for the Kiwis as he carded his second successive two-under par 70 to move to four-under through two rounds of his second stage event at TPC Craig Ranch in Texas.

The South Carolina-based player from Tauranga, who had limited starts without success on the United States second-tier Web.com Tour this year and dipped out at European Tour school earlier this month, had four birdies, four bogeys and an eagle at the par-five 18th - he finished birdie, eagle - to move into a share of 27th at the halfway point.

The top 20 players and ties from that field will progress to the final stage, where 156 players will battle it out for the 25 remaining PGA Tour cards.

There are six second stage tournaments each with field sizes of about 78.