Live blog: New Zealand Open second round
6:47pm: The wind relented but the players didn't respond and the upshot is the New Zealand Open is wide open heading into the weekend, with little known Australian Daniel Fox in pole position after holing out for eagle on the 18th late in the day.
It looked as though it would be an incredibly tough day for scoring in the second round at Clearwater; the wind got up early this morning and the average score quickly jumped out to five-over. But it relented in the afternoon, just in time for the bigger guns to take advantage and go low.
Strangely, though, nobody could. In fact, three-under par rounds of 69 from Australians Josh Younger and Brodie Ninyette in the tougher morning conditions could not be topped in what were as good a conditions as you're ever likely to get here at Clearwater in the afternoon.
Daniel Fox came the closest, matching them with a 69 courtesy of a dramatic eagle at the tough par-four 18th, holing his second from the right rough with a nine-iron from 130m to snatch the outright lead late in the afternoon at three-under par. He opened with an even-par 72 yesterday.
"I was just just trying to get it over the bunker and get it onto the green," Fox smiled of his last shot of the day.
The 36-year-old was fizzing, revealing this was the first time he had fronted a press conference. He has never led a tournament of this significance, until today.
Australian amateur Jake Higginbottom was among those to come close to breaking 70, a bogey at the par-four 18th after he found the drink with his second shot seeing him sign for a two-under par 70. The 19-year-old shares second compatriot Ryan Haller, who carded a one-under 71 today.
"It was a good round. I was happy with how I was playing, hopefully I can keep that going," Higginbottom said.
"I'm scoring good but I'm not necessarily hitting it that well."
Higginbottom and Haller are two-under for the tournament, one shot behind Daniel Fox and one ahead of seven players tied for fourth at one-under.
Among that group are the leading Kiwis, Ryan Fox, who had a 73 today, Gareth Paddison (72) and Mathew Perry (71).
New Zealanders Mahal Pearce, Brad Shilton and Peter Spearman-Burn are among a group of six players tied for 11th at even-par.
4:43pm: Waikato's Mathew Perry has bolted to the lead in his first tournament as a professional.
He shares the lead with Aussies Craig Hancock and Aaron Townsend, while Ryan Fox has dropped back to -1 after a bogey at the par-three 16th.
4:21pm: Fox has just tapped in from about a foot after a perfectly played hole at the par-four 15th to get back to even for the day and join Hancock and Jeffress in the lead at -2.
Conditions are remarkably still this afternoon and it really is quite staggering that nobody has gone low so far.
Still time I guess.
4:04pm: Wow. There's been a whole lot of movement in the last 15 mins and we now have two leaders - Aussies Steven Jeffress and Craig Hancock - at two-under par and seven players tied for third at one-under.
Gareth Paddison is one of those after back-to-back bogeys at the ninth and 10th holes. Also at -1 are Kiwis Ryan Fx, Mahal Pearce. Mathew Perry and Kevin Smith.
Lurking up the leaderboard and now tied for 10th at even par is a certain Greg Turner, the 49-year-old two-time former Open champion who is -2 today.
For those wondering what happened to NZ's top amateur, Vaughan McCall, he was -1 but made a triple bogey seven at the eighth hole and has dropped another couple of shots at the start of his inward nine to be +4 for the day and +3 overall.
3:34pm: Kiwi Gareth Paddison has dropped to a share of the lead despite a bogey at the par-three ninth hole.
Paddison nailed back-to-back birdies at the fifth and sixth holes to move to two-under for the day and -3 for the tournament but, after missing birdie putts from inside 10 feet at No7 and No 8, he found the water at No 9 after tugging his tee shot.
But he got up and down nicely after a drop to card just a bogey.
The Wellington lefty is at -2 for the tournament (-1 today) and shares the lead with overnight leader Craig Hancock, who had dropped from -4 to -1 but got a shot back at the par-five second, his 11th of the day.
Aussie Steven Jeffress and Kiwi Ryan Fox (both -1) are the only other players under par for the tournament, which is quite shocking really given the top golfers are out on course now and the conditions are as close to perfect as you'll ever get at Clearwater.
Among the group at even par, just two shots back, are Ben Campbell, Mahal Pearce, Kevin Smith and Mathew Perry.
2:22pm: Paddison has just birdied the par-five fifth getting up and down from 50m to move to -1 for the day and the joint lead alongside Jeffress and Fox, who made birdie at No 6 to get back to -2.
Wind has almost died down completely and there are no excuses right now. Hancock has bogeyed No 15 to drop back to -1. They're the only players under par!
1:58pm: Interesting that only five guys are under par for the tournament right now but the wind has died down considerably and is only a gentle breeze, and has been for about half an hour.
1:51pm: Great bounce back birdie from 10 feet by Brown at the par-four third, with a tricky pin position today.
He's back to even and now just two shots off the pace after Hancock doubled the tough par-four 13th, which is made tougher today into the breeze. He now leads at -2 with fellow Aussie Steven Jeffress, who is -1 through six today.
O'Malley also birdied the third with a tap-in following a delightful wedge from about 100m and he is about to go to -2 for the day (and join Brown at even overall) after stiffing it to tap-in range at the par-three fourth.
1:30pm: Sloppy bogey from Brown after he was greenside in two at the par-five second. Left himself shortsided, went over the green and couldn't get up and down. He drops to +1.
Not much movement at the top. Craig Hancock is even through three holes and remains at -4. Ryan Fox is even through three and in sole possession I second at -2 after Kristopher Mueck dropped an early shot.
1:10pm: Pars all round for Paddison, Brown and O'Malley at the first, though Paddison will be annoyed he couldn't convert from 10 feet after an exquisite approach from the fairway bunker.
1:02pm: We'll follow the Gareth Paddison (-1) Mark Brown (even) and Peter
O'Malley (+2) group for a bit. They've just teed off the first.
In the group ahead, looks like Mahal Pearce started with a birdie to
move to -1, alongside playing partner Vaughan McCall.
12:45pm: Rain has stopped. Wind is still blowing.
12:40pm: And, just as I was about to head out on course and follow a few of the bigger groups - Ryan Fox tees off about now - the rain arrives. Not sure why I wore shorts today, but at least the umbrella is in the boot of the car.
Hardly ideal conditions with the wind chucked into the mix but the stronger half of the field will have to cope with it this afternoon.
Andrew Martin has just signed for a one-over par 73, which looks pretty handy alongside his 72 yesterday. He's the clubhouse leader at one-over and can now sit back this afternoon and almost certainly watch himself climb from his current position of 18th.
It could have been so much better though, as he double bogeyed the 18th and showed his disgust by smacking his ball into the water with his putter.
Martin's playing partners Josh Younger and Brody Ninyette are in with the best rounds of the morning, 69.
After opening with 79 and 80, respectively, they'll both easily make the cut.
11:53am: Well, the scores continue to mount at Clearwater, with the leaderboard essentially the same as it was at the start of the day given nobody has made a serious impression (in the right direction) this morning.
There are only three players at three-under or better this morning - Aussies Josh Younger, Brody Ninyette and Cameron Jones.
Problem is for those guys, they shot 79, 80 and 80 respectively in yesterday's first round, so while they're climbing the leaderboard today, they're not in contention.
Andrew Martin, who carded an even-par 72 yesterday, is even through 15 holes. If he can par his way home I reckon he'll be in excellent shape at the end of the day.
The better golfers are on show this afternoon but the way the conditions are, low scoring is going to be incredibly tough.
11:22am: Reed got off the bogey train at the first hole, but with a double bogey. He's now +3 for his round and +2 overall.
The wind is up earlier than it was yesterday and it's making scoring very difficult. Doesn't help that most of the bigger name players tee off this afternoon, either.
Only Ninyette, who remains at -4 today through 13 holes, is really lighting it up.
The wind has switched around from yesterday and the three par-fives that are now playing downwind, the fifth, 10th and 14th holes, are all averging under par. The other 15 holes are over and the average score in course right now is +4.
If the wind stays - and you can almost bet your house that it will - I reckon even-par at the end of the day will be looking very, very good.
10:44am: Oops, Reed has caught the bogey train and he'll need to get off it pronto.
He's dropped another shot, at the tough par-four 18th, and is now +1 for the day and even for the tournament, four shots behind Hancock.
10:40am: Reed's stellar second round start has been wiped out after back-to-back bogeys at the par-three 16th and par-four 17th. He's back to even for the day and -1 for the tournament, in a share of fourth.
Ninyette, meanwhile, has made the turn in four-under 32 and is making giant strides up the leaderboard.
He's birdied Nos 1, 2, 5 and 7 and has the slightly easier back nine to come. The Aussie is at +4 for the tournament, having opened with an 80 yesterday afternoon.
There's not a lot else going on unfortunately, except for a few guys going backwards in a hurry. Cut at this stage looks like being in the vicinity of +8 or +9.
10:11am: Heath Reed's best finish on the PGA Tour of Australasia this year has been a tie for 43rd, at the Queensland PGA Championship.
The 31-year-old who was born in Bendigo and lives in Maroochydore has been on tour since 2005 and has just the one win, at the 2008 South Australian PGA Championship.
10:05am: The other 11 guys in red figures will be watching the leaderboard rather nervously this morning as Heath Reed makes another birdie.
The Queenslander has gone back-to-back at No 14 and 15 and is two-under through six holes, and -3 for the tournament, just one shot behind Craig Hancock.
The breeze is already starting to get up - not a good sign for those off early this afternoon.
According to someone in the know, Reed was paying $30 to win after the first round. He'll have shortened now.
9:39: We have some action at the top of the leaderboard.
After opening with four successive pars Reed has made birdie at the par-five 14th hole and moved to two-under for the tournament, in a share of second with Ryan Fox and Kristopher Mueck.
Reed is clearly playing well - he was the only guy to break par in the afternoon yesterday. He's primed for a move.
A bit further down the leaderboard, fellow Aussie Brody Ninyette has the round of the morning going, he's three-under par through six holes, but he opened with an 80 yesterday.
9:05am: Nobody really setting Clearwater alight at this stage. Just two players - Australians Clint Rice and Brody Ninyette - are two-under par, with a handful of others at -1.
Rice had a good round going yesterday but faded to close with a 74, still not a bad effort in the afternoon wind.
He's birdied two of his opening three rounds to get back to even-par and he'll be well placed at the end of the day if he can pick a couple of more shots up in relatively good conditions right now.
8:30am: Good morning from Clearwater, where the players who were unfortunate enough to have afternoon tee times yesterday have got their wish.
It's a gorgeous morning here in Christchurch right now - no wind, sun is out, course is still in pristine condition. Now is the time to make up lost ground, given only one player - Australian Heath Reed - broke par yesterday afternoon.
The other 12 players in the 142-strong field who broke par yesterday, including leader Craig Hancock at four-under, all tee off this afternoon and they'll be hoping for kinder conditions than yesterday afternoon.
There are a handful of golfers on course but no significant moves right now. We'll keep you updated through the morning on any developments at the top of the leaderboard and into the afternoon, when the bigger names will be out on course.
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