Golf: Bland anything but with blitz of birdies

By Daniel Richardson

Kiwis lurk as Australians show the way at NZ PGA Championship

Kiwi Phil Tataurangi shot a disappointing 78 yesterday. Photo / Getty Images
Kiwi Phil Tataurangi shot a disappointing 78 yesterday. Photo / Getty Images

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 at The Hills yesterday.

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 during 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 leader board at Arrowtown.

"It was good. Obviously I had a shaky start then holed an eagle putt from just off the green on 15 and then hit a few close and other than that the putter started working, which was nice," Bland said after his round.

The 30-year-old, who turned professional in 2004, spent time on the web.com Tour - formerly the Nationwide Tour - from 2009-2011 and said he was hoping to pick up some form this week.

"I've started to play a little bit better so I just came here hoping to play well and just try and get some consistency out of the week. So I could hopefully be up there at the end of the week and we'll see how it goes [during] the next few days."

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.

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 a handful of internationals. Former European Tour pro Greg Turner finished with a one-under 71.

- APNZ

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