Bay golfer geared up

By Kelly Exelby

Josh Geary, New Zealand's in-form amateur, won't mind if Taranaki's wild weather turns it on when he tees it up in the $40,000 Taranaki Open starting at the Ngamotu Golf Club links course, New Plymouth, tomorrow.
After the energy-sapping heat at the recent Singapore amateur championship that hit him between the eyes like wayward five-iron, anything remotely cold and wet would be welcome respite.
"It was hot, so hot you can't really describe it. It was a pretty huge heat and not like anything I'd ever played golf in before," the 19-year-old Mount Maunganui +3 handicapper said.
Geary returned home late last week, spending a week on Australia's Sunshine Coast after the Singapore tournament, where he joined his New Zealand team-mates Kevin Chun (Auckland) and Riki Kauika (Wanganui).
Geary was 10th in Singapore - his first trip away as a senior New Zealand representative - and combined with team-mate Mark Purser, who was second individual, for fourth in the two-man team event.
Geary was 15 over-par for the 72-hole Singapore tournament. After his recent birdie barrage in New Zealand that saw him dominate all four official Eisenhower Cup trial events, it was a new experience being in red figures.
"It was still a great experience and I actually played well and hit the ball good. The course was just a lot different than what I was used to _ at 6750m it was longer than most courses here and, given the (sub-tropical) conditions there was hardly any run.
"The greens were also slow and a lot grainier, making them hard to read."
But it was the humidity, hitting 98 per cent with temperatures in the mid-30s, that presented the biggest challenge for the teenager.
"The heat was unbearable for the first couple of days, although I started to get used to it.
"It was quite weird for the first three days (which yielded scores of 78, 75 and 78) to be hit by thunderstorms about 12 holes into the round.

We had to stop and leave the course for a couple of hours, which killed your momentum."
Geary was in more familiar surrounds at the Hyatt Coolum, near Mooloolaba, last week, shooting 68 at Coolum and 72 on the Greg Norman-designed Pelican Waters as the Eisenhower team familiarised themselves with the Bermuda Grass greens they will find at the world teams championship in Puerto Rico next month.
Geary is confident of a strong showing at the Taranaki Open, which is the first of the Golf Tour New Zealand events, an initiative by retired professional Greg Turner, which provides competition for New Zealand's elite players, amateur and professional.
Tauranga-based professsional Eddie Burgess is also in the field, as are Western Bay amateurs James Hamilton (Omanu) and Kevin Smith (Tauranga).
Leading the professionals is Manawatu lefthander Tim Wilkinson, who competed in the last Eisenhower Trophy in Malaysia two years ago before turning professional. Fresh from the United States PGA Tour, Wilkinson is among 36 professionals at the Open.
The course record of 64 is jointly held by New Plymouth professional Grant Moorhead and Auckland's Richard Lee.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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