Fox slips back but several Kiwis near top

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 12:50 22/11/2012

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Ryan Fox slipped down the leaderboard at the New Zealand Open today, but is pleased with his two-under 70 as the Christchurch easterly has picked up.

Australian Craig Hancock was the clubhouse leader earlier, signing for a four-under 68 in trying conditions that will only get worse today.

Fox birdied his first three holes after playing the back nine first and after 10 holes was five-under.

A mistake at the third cost him two shots and the 25-year-old rookie pro bogeyed the par four sixth too.

He made a pair of sand saves on his final two holes for par and was pleased to have finished his round when he did.

"It was very tough out there," Fox said.

"Our last sort of 12 holes [were difficult because of the wind] and I'm really happy to hold on to a good score.

Hancock, a Tasmanian, made just one bogey in his impressive 68.

"I struggled a little bit early, but fought the wind," he said.

"We're sort of used to it back in Tassie, so it wasn't all bad for me, but a lot of the holes it's facing the water, and I don't like water too much... but it was nice to put a good score on the board."

Brad Shilton had overtaken Fox as the leading Kiwi and was even par through five holes on his back nine to be three-under through 14.

There were earlier 24 players under par, but that number is likely to drop as the wind takes its toll for those players with afternoon tee times.

Kiwi Kevin Smith had reason to celebrate on the par four sixth this morning, making an eagle two. Unfortunately the eagle was following a triple bogey eight on the long par-five fifth, though Smith was one-under through 14.

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