Kiwi golfer Danny Lee shares lead in Texas

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 29/03/2014
Danny Lee
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IN THE HUNT: Kiwi golfer Danny Lee.

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Danny Lee has the belief, he has the putter going, and now he just needs some consistency.

For the second time this month, the 23-year-old Kiwi golfer holds the opening round lead in a PGA Tour tournament.

Lee fired a solid, four-under par 68 at the TPC San Antonio course to be one of three co-leaders of the NZ$7.15m Valero Texas Open when play was suspended because of darkness.

Lee will be hoping for a much better second round than the last time he led a PGA Tour event, the Valspar Championship.

Lee led there after day one, but recorded an eight-over 79 on day two to miss the cut.

The long TPC San Antonio course offered up few birdies yesterday, but Lee made his fair share, eventually.

The former US Amateur winner stood on the 14th tee and was even par.

He made a birdie four on the par-five 14th, sunk a 28-foot putt for birdie on the par-four 15th, parred the 16th then finished with two more birdies.

The last was a particularly handy one as Lee had put his second on the 540m par-five 18th in the greenside bunker.

He blasted out well, but still had a five-foot birdie putt which he comfortably converted.

Play started 2 hours later after a fog delay and while Lee and fellow leader Pat Perez were able to finish their rounds, the other leader, Andrew Loupe, was one of 44 who will need to complete their first round this morning.

''It was a really nice day for me, I was hitting it really well,'' Lee said.

''I wasn't making enough putts in the early round, but at the end I made some 15-footers and 25-footers to shoot four-under. It was a good day for me.''

Lee has recently changed to using the claw-style putting technique. He recently told Fairfax Media that allowed him to stroke the ball better and worry just about the pace.

''I don't have to think about making perfect stroke every time,'' he said.

The first time he used the rare technique he finished second in the Puerto Rico Open, a result which has boosted his confidence and self-belief.

''[After Puerto Rico] a little bit changed for me,'' he said.  

''I was starting to act more positive, believing in every shot I hit and believing in my game. It definitely feels better.''

Fellow Kiwi Tim Wilkinson only completed 12 holes in his opening round and was in a tie for 70th at one-over.

Meanwhile, Lydia Ko had a rare off-day and is at risk of missing her first ever cut in a professional tournament.

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Even as an amateur, the now 16-year-old professional never missed a cut. She's played in 33 professional tournaments - 25 as an amateur, eight as a pro - and played the weekend every time.

She'll have to work hard to keep that record alive this week after shooting a two-over 74 at the Kia Classic in California yesterday.

Ko was seven shots behind leaders Paula Creamer and Mariajo Uribe, in a tie for 71st. The top 60 and ties make the cut.

Ko made nine straight pars to start the tournament - the last before the first women's major of the year, next week's Kraft Nabisco Championship.

But the back nine was very un-Ko-like. She made three bogeys and just one birdie down the stretch of  the Aviara Golf Club and dropped shots on the 16th and 18th holes.

- Stuff

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