Kiwis look to make their move at NZ Open

FRED WOODCOCK AND MATT RICHENS IN ARROWTOWN
Last updated 18:47 28/02/2014

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6:47pm Australian Adam Blyth has shot a stunning seven-under 65 to join Kiwi Richard Lee at the top of the leaderboard after the second round of the NZ Open.

Blyth carded nine birdies and two bogeys around Millbrook Resort and putted the lights out, with an incredible tally of 19 putts for the round.

Among his highlights was a birdie at the 570m par-five 15th, and that after putting his second shot into the water. He holed his fourth from 70m.

6:35pm Most of the action is around the cutline as the final few holes are played in the second round.

The cut of the top-60 players and ties is fluctuation between even-par and +1. As it stands, it's +1 which would mean NZ No 1 Mike Hendry plays the weekend. He's just carded a one-over 73 at The Hills this afternoon.

Colourful American Rocco Mediate is done and dusted, though. He double bogeyed the 18th at The Hills to drop from +1 to +3.

At the top, Aussie Adam Blyth has got a great round going and is now -8, one shot behind leader Richard Lee.

Blyth is -6 through 17 holes at Millbrook Resort and has nudged Mathew Perry into third.

5.15pm Not a lot of movement on the leaderboard as Richard Lee continues to hold a two-shot lead over fellow Kiwi Mathew Perry, who has been joined by Australian Dimitrios Papadatos at seven-under.

Papadatos has just carded a three-under 69 at Millbrook Resort.

There are three Aussies tied for fourth at six-under and the group at five-under includes Kiwis Mark Brown, who is even for the day through 17 holes, and big-hitting Ryan Fox.

Fox has moved himself into contention going into the weekend with a three-under par 69 at Millbrook this afternoon.

His round included an eagle, five birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey.

3.50pm The conditions continue to change at the New Zealand Open.

Celebrity golfer Cris Judd said he'd been told about the four seasons in one day thing, but didn't appreciate it until today.

It's still cold, but is warming up. The sun is trying to break through and the rain has stopped.

Richard Lee is the clubhouse leader at nine-under thanks to his five-under 67 today.

He's one ahead of little-known Jake Stirling, one of the overnight leaders.

He's played seven holes and is two-under, forcing everyone in the media-room to jump on Google and find anything we can about him.

He's only just qualified for the Australasian Tour courtesy of the Q-school and has played most of his golf on the Asian Development tour.

The cut line is still at even-par, but that could easily creep out to plus-one yet.

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Kiwi No 1 Michael Hendry is two-over while Rocco Mediate is at three-over.

So we have Lee at nine-under, Stirling at eight-under and Hamilton's Mathew Perry at seven-under ahead of a group of three at six-under including Mark Brown.

Brown made a cracking up and down for birdie on the first at The Hills, but couldn't get up and down at the second and made bogey,

Matt Jager shot a three-under 69 at Millbrook this morning to also be at six-under alongside Dimitrios Papadatos who is still on the course at Millbrook at two under with six to play.

The leading amateur could be decided today as all the amateurs in the field are outside the cut mark.

Southland's Vaughan McCall was three-under yesterday, but has bombed today and is nine-over for his round leaving Christchurch's Jordan Bakermans the leading contender for the leading amateur's trophy, the Bledisloe Cup.

2.45pm Richard Lee on his five-under 67 today, which sees him hold the lead midway through the second round of the New Zealand Open in Arrowtown.

"Yeah, I'm very happy, especially with the inclement weather coming in. I'm rapt with my score. I just hit a few good shots and holed a few good putts, really, pretty consistent," he said.

And his strategy for the weekend?

"Just go out and do the same. If I shoot two rounds in the 60s, I'll be rapt. It's all weather-dependent. It's going to be really tough for those guys out there this afternoon."

Meanwhile, Andrew Dodt double bogeyed the par-three 16th at The Hills and dropped back to even-par for the day through seven holes, and six-under for the tournament.

It means Richard Lee (nine-under) has a two-shot lead over fellow Kiwi Matt Perry and Aussie Jake Stirling, who is one-under though five holes today.

Lee and Perry have completed their second rounds.

Mark Brown, meanwhile, has birdied the par-five 17th hole at The Hills and is now one-under through eight holes today and six-under overall, in a share of fourth.

Brown had a bogey at the 12th, his third hole of the day, but has since birdied two par-fives. 

2.00pm Little change on the leaderboard in the last hour, though we can happily report the weather has improved slightly and you can now see the surrounding hills.

There's been a really decent dusting of snow up there, and the temperature is naturally still very cool.

Aussie Andrew Dodt, one of the overnight leaders, has had two early birdies and is two-under through five holes at The Hills, leaping ahead of Kiwi Mathew Perry.

Dodt is eight-under, one shot behind clubhouse leader Richard Lee, with Perry third alone at seven-under.

Aussies Matt Jager and Jake Stirling are tied for fourth at six-under with Mark Brown among those at five-under. Brown has played five holes today at The Hills and is even for the day. 

12.50pm The weather has just packed in and it's at the perfect time for Richard Lee and Matt Perry.

Lee just sunk a 12-footer for birdie on the ninth at The Hills to move to nine-under for the tournament, following an outstanding five-under 67 on day two.

Lee got up and down for pars from off the green on his 16th and 17th holes - two very crucial par saves.

Perry shot a three-under 69 to get to seven-under for the tournament after making late birdies on 15 and 17.

Matt Jager is also at seven-under and is still on course.

It is going to be very hard to score well this afternoon. he wind is up, it's raining heavily and it's freezing cold. Interesting for February.

Those that did okay yesterday afternoon and then got out there and recorded red numbers this morning will be in great shape and it's hard to see anyone out on the course pushing Lee for the second round lead.

At six-under we have Andrew Dodt, Terry Pilkadaris and Jake Stirling, the latter three are all yet to finish a hole in their second round and will do very well to stay in touch in these conditions.

We can't emphasise enough how cold, wet and windy it is here in Arrowtown. It's very unpleasant.

11.50am: There have been a few changes at the top of the leaderboard.

Richard Lee remains at eight under in what are increasingly poor conditions.

It's bitter cold, getting colder and the chilly wind is getting up.

The tops of the mountains surrounding The Hills have now disappeared in ominous looking clouds.

Back to the golf... Mathew Perry dropped a shot at 14 and is one-under today and five-under for the tournament.

But... he's just put his tee shot at the par-four 15th just short of the green and has a great chance at getting to six-under again.

Australian Matt Jager is three-under today and at six-under for the tournament in a tie for second.

Perry chips to three feet and makes the birdie... Back to six-under and within two of Lee.

11.05am Richard Lee is not only leading the New Zealand Open, but he is the hottest player on either course right now.

The Aucklander made the turn today in -3 to have a one shot lead at -7 and, despite missing an 8-footer for birdie at the downwind par-5 first hole at The Hills, played the tough into-the-wind second superbly.

He sunk a five-footer for birdie on that hole and has just parred the third to be -4 through 12 holes and -8 for the tournament. He leads by two shots.

Waikato's Mathew Perry is also playing well; he's -2 through 11 holes at The Hills to be among the group tied for second at -6.

It is bitterly cold here and the eyes are certainly watering. The wind is not only up but there's a few light raindrops and a dusting of snow on the surrounding mountains.

If Lee, a former Japan Tour pro, can hold firm over his last six holes and the weather packs in, he will be in great shape for the weekend.

Celebrity chef Josh Emett and The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan are playing in Lee's group and displaying a wide range of skill.

Emett looks a very handy player and has got up and down for great pars on the last two holes.

Keoghan's finest quality appears to be his dress sense; he's looking quite smart in his brightly coloured pants but is struggling to hit the ball off the tee at the moment. 

10.10am Auckland's Richard Lee is now the outright leader at seven-under.

Lee, ranked 1085 in the world, has birdied both The Hills' back nine par-three and the par-five 17th to be three-under today and he enjoys a one-shot lead from three of our four overnight leaders, Jake Stirling, Andrew Dodt and Terry Pilkadaris, all of whom are yet to start.

The other overnight leader, Scott Strange, is out on the course and not going so well.

He's playing the front nine at The Hills and, after making a birdie at three to move to the outright lead, he dropped three shots in two holes to drop back to four-under.

Hamilton's Mathew Perry is also one back. He's made three birdies this morning, also at The Hills, and a bogey to be two-under today and at six-under for the tournament.

It's not warm here, but the weather is better than forecast. For now.

So those out there putting on good numbers now could be at a huge advantage because the weather is expected to turn pear-shaped at some stage.  

9.25am We have an outright leader.

Aussie Scott Strange has an early birdie to his name and is -1 through four holes if his second round at The Hills this morning.

Strange is now -7 for the tournament and is, er, no stranger to The Hills having finished second to Mike Hendry at last year's NZ PGA Championship, losing in a playoff.

He's also spent plenty of time playing on the European Tour so has some game.

8.30am Someone forgot the tell the Queenstown area that it's summer.

It's fairly cold this morning and the forecast is for more of the same - plus some rain - throughout the day for the second round of the New Zealand Open.

Word is the low in Arrowtown today will be -3 degrees!

The first players are out on course and everyone is trying to catch the four Aussies at the top of the leaderboard - Andrew Dodt, Jake Stirling, Scott Strange and Terry Pilkadaris - who are at six-under.

Mark Brown was a shot back at -5 overnight and he has been joined by Richard Lee who has birdied his first hole this morning, at The Hills.

There's a handful of Kiwis at -4 and -3 so there will be plenty of interest in how they go today.

It will it be the likes of Ryan Fox, Gareth Paddison or Josh Geary (-2) that make a second day move?

We will have rolling coverage throughout the day.

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