Wind causes havoc at New Zealand Open

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 23/11/2012
Craig Hancoc
Iain McGregor/Fairfax NZ
EARLY LEAD: Australia's Craig Hancock shot a four-under par 68 to lead after the first round of the New Zealand Open.

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The infamous Christchurch easterly had the last laugh at Clearwater, causing havoc for most of the New Zealand Open afternoon field.

Only 12 of the 144 players managed to fire red numbers yesterday and only one with a "pm" tee time.

Queenslander Heath Reed will be hoping for another gusty day today as his one-under-par 71 stands out like a road cone amongst the afternoon rounds.

He was due to tee off early this morning in what is expected to again be the best of the conditions.

Countryman Craig Hancock is the overnight leader courtesy of a four-under 68 that surprised even himself.

"I would have taken probably four-even par [rounds] or four one-unders," the Tasmanian said.

"It's a pretty tough golf course, the rough's pretty thick, four under's pretty good."

He finished tied 14th at last week's lucrative Australian Masters so is in form but also clearly likes the Clearwater layout.

"It's just spot on, there's nothing bad about the course. The greens are perfect, the rough, it's all perfect."

And he likes the wind too.

"We're sort of used to it back in Tassie, so it wasn't all bad for me . . . but it was nice to put a good score on the board.

"[In the wind] you just have to concentrate a little bit harder. You probably actually play a bit better in the breeze because you're not so relaxed. You really have to knuckle down when the wind gets up or otherwise it could bite you on the bum."

Hancock, the world No 896, leads rookie Kiwi pro Ryan Fox, Victorian Kristopher Mueck and Reed by two shots and a group of eight players at one under.

In that group are Southland amateur Vaughan McCall, Kiwi lefty Gareth Paddison and Te Awamutu's Brad Shilton.

Reed had a poor start. He doubled the second hole - the easiest hole on the course and the only one playing under par - but from there was easily the best of the afternoon golfers.

He was one of just three players to birdie the difficult eighth to finish the front nine at even par and his back nine was highlighted by a stunning eagle at the 474m par-five 14th.

Though the 14th is short, a hazard in the middle of the fairway stops many players shooting for the green in two. Like most in the 144-man field, Reed laid up, but banged his 85m sand wedge third past the pin only for it to suck back into the cup for a welcome eagle.

He said the secret to taming the easterly was keeping the ball low.

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At the other end of the scoring spectrum were some pretty high numbers.

Marlborough amateur Brook Hale battled the hardest and signed for a 24-over 96 but he wasn't alone in the 90s.

- The Press

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