Golf: Zwart happy with round

By Shane Hurndell

Hawke's Bay golfer Pieter Zwart will today aim to shoot four or five under at the NZ PGA Championship in Queenstown.

"That's what I'll need to qualify for this weekend's business end of the tournament. I'm well capable of that - I shot two under here at The Hills last year," Waipukurau's Zwart said after yesterday's first round.

Zwart shot a one over 73 to be seven shots behind the leaders.

"Considering the start I had I'm happy with the round. But I'm not happy in general - I've got a bit of work to do if I'm going to qualify for the weekend," he said.

In perfect conditions Zwart had a birdie on his first hole but then found the water twice.

"Those two shots were costly. While I had some opportunities which I took advantage of I wasn't on the short grass as often as I would have liked - I was in the straw far too often," Zwart explained.

Zwart had an 8.30am tee off yesterday and was confident his 12.30pm tee off today would be more of an advantage.

He will again be playing in the same group as fellow Kiwi Craig Palmer and Queenslander Brett Rankin.

Adam Bland's mid-round blitz has seen him claim a share of the lead from a low-scoring opening round at the NZ PGA Championship.

The unheralded left-hander from Adelaide dropped two shots during his first five holes then flicked the switch as he registered an eagle and six birdies in his next eight holes.

He closed the day with a six-under 66 and joined his countrymen Matthew Ballard and Aaron Townsend in a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard in Arrowtown, near Queenstown.

Defending champion Michael Hendry and Mathew Perry were the best Kiwis in the field in a logjam of eight players in a tie for fourth at five-under but Hendry wasn't happy with how he struck the ball off the tee.

"I'd just like it to be a bit tidier," the 33-year-old said. "But the good thing is I'm not playing my best golf first round, I've still got a couple more rounds of improvement to make as well. So hopefully the best golf will come Saturday and Sunday."

To highlight the low-scoring day, 10 players also shot four-under, including New Zealander Michael Long, to hold a share of 12th place.

Of the other Kiwis in the field, Gareth Paddison and Josh Geary both shot three-under to be in a tie for 22nd place.

Ashburton's Daniel Pearce, who got to five-under at one stage, finished with a two-under 70 to hold a share of 30th place alongside Jared Pender, Ryan Fox and other internationals.

Former European Tour pro Greg Turner finished with a one-under 71, the same score as Kiwis Steven Alker, Clarke Osborne, Craig Palmer, Dominic Barson, Sean Riordan and Sven Puymbroeck who all have a share of 38th place. Additional reporting APNZ

- Hawkes Bay Today

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