Pearce in front at Manawatu Golf Club

06:16, Jan 31 2013

Ashburton professional Daniel Pearce cashed in on the benign morning conditions to take a one-stroke lead on the first day of the LawnMaster Class at the Manawatu Golf Club today.

Newly-fledged pro Pearce shot an imposing 7-under 65 in the hot weather at the new $40,000 Charles Tour event which has a field of 125 men.

Men like Michael Campbell and Danny Lee have won this event in the past, but since 1985 it has been one of the leading tournaments for amateurs.

Pearce, in a rare visit to the Hokowhitu course, was one shot in front of Te Anau professional David Klein with his 66.

Both men were running hot on their front nines. Pearce had four birdies and an eagle on his opening nine and just a solitary birdie on the back nine.

Klein was 5-under at the turn and he too could manage only one other birdie.

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He has already won on the Charles Tour, in last year’s Taranaki Open at Ngamotu.

There is a gaggle of players hard on their heels with three days to play and with the cut of top 60 and ties to be made tomorrow evening.

In the chasing group at 5 under are amateur Harry Bateman (Royal Wellington), Hastings pro Leighton James and Waikato amateur Steven Kuggeleijn.

Bateman was last year’s LawnMaster winner as a Canterbury player.

Lying at 4 under are New Plymouth amateur Steven Heyes and experienced professionals, Doug Holloway and Josh Geary.

Geary excelled with his 68 because he only flew back from British Open qualifying at Kingston Heath in Melbourne this morning and was given an afternoon tee time.

Auckland’s Lita Guo led the small women’s field of 15 after a 4-under 70 by three shots from Waikato’s Chantelle Cassidy and North Harbour representative Sai Ma.

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