Golf: Lee and Blyth hold lead at NZ Open

By Daniel Richardson of APNZ in Queenstown

Kiwi golfer Richard Lee can put his teaching aspirations on hold if he keeps up his form at the New Zealand Open. Photo / Chris Kilford.
Kiwi golfer Richard Lee can put his teaching aspirations on hold if he keeps up his form at the New Zealand Open. Photo / Chris Kilford.

Kiwi golfer Richard Lee can put his teaching aspirations on hold if he keeps up his form at the New Zealand Open.

The 40-year-old is a joint leader at the new-look tournament in Queenstown after he fired a five-under 67 at The Hills today to move to nine-under for the week, alongside Australian Adam Blyth after two rounds.

The revamped Open sees players play a round at The Hills and the nearby Millbrook Resort before the final two rounds take place at The Hills during the weekend.

Waikato's Mathew Perry and Australian Dimitrios Papadatos have a share of third place, two strokes back at seven-under.

Lee, who lost his Japan Tour card at the end of 2012, spent time working towards becoming a teaching professional last year, while looking after his 22-month-old daughter.

His round today was aided by playing before the bad weather struck.

"Just hit a few good shots and holed a few good putts, really," he said of his round.

Considering Lee has few playing options this year, a New Zealand Open victory would provide him a card on the PGA Tour of Australasia for the rest of this year and the following two seasons. He would also pick up a few extra starts on the Japan Tour.

"I don't know about life-changing but it would just give me a few more places to play," he said. "For any Kiwi, you'd love to win the New Zealand Open."

Lee finished fifth at the last Open when it was held at Clearwater in 2012.

And while he produced his best work early in the day, Blyth was one of the last players off the greens but fired a seven-under 65 at Millbrook to shoot up the leaderboard.

The Queenslander had only 19 putts for his round as he made an impressive charge.

Perry, who is based in Melbourne and predominantly plays in pro-ams, is at the New Zealand Open on a tournament invite.

After opening with a four-under 68 at Millbrook yesterday, he followed it up with a three-under 69 at The Hills today and was another player to get through his round before the worst of the weather struck.

"I think my course management was spot on," Perry said. "Yesterday, around Millbrook, I played exceptionally well and hit the ball and putted beautifully and today it was a little off to start with but my course management kept me in it and taking safe lines and hitting aggressive shots was the key."

Bitterly cold conditions made it tough for all players this afternoon and Mark Brown, David Klein and Ryan Fox are the next best Kiwis in the field behind Perry in a share of seventh at five-under, alongside Terry Pilkadaris.

That foursome is one stroke back from Australians Matt Jager and Bryden Macpherson who are in fifth at six-under.

"My round was a little bit up and down as it tends to get occasionally," Fox said after he signed for a three-under 69 at Millbrook today. "We got some really tough conditions."

The cut line was at one-over and 71 players will take on the weekend. Notable names to miss the cut included Australians Craig Parry and Nick Cullen, defending champion Jake Higginbottom and American Rocco Mediate.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a1 at 17 Sep 2014 09:43:42 Processing Time: 385ms