By Matt Brown in Queenstown
Kiwi favourite Ryan Fox has missed the cut after a disastrous second round at the New Zealand Open in Queenstown, with Korean Joohyung Kim maintaining his outright lead.
Fox had a double bogey on his second hole at Millbrook to slip to even par, and never recovered. As the blustery wind returned to haunt the afternoon golfers on the back nine, Fox dropped two further shots to card a four-over 75, finishing two over, two shots outside the cut line.
Kim, the 17-year old first round leader, started the day on seven-under par and carded a four-under 68 at The Hills to hold a one-shot lead over Australian Ben Eccles.
"It was great - I played really well in tough conditions which wasn't easy, but I hope to keep going for the weekend," Kim said.
"My ball striking for sure has been good. I have kept it in play really well this week. But there are so many big names one or two strokes away, and when it comes to the big intense moments, they always deliver - so I just have to bring my A game."
The 25-year-old Eccles earlier made the most of near-perfect morning conditions at The Hills, in stark contrast to the opening day when the wind gusted and changed direction multiple times.
Eccles carded a four-under 68 to move to 10-under on the back of a flying start, He eagled the par-five first hole and followed up with birdies on the second and third.
Eccles didn't know until Wednesday morning that he would be playing this week, after arriving as an alternate, and is thrilled with his form.
"It's an amazing feeling and I hope I can keep it going on the weekend," Eccles said.
"I earned my Asian Tour card last week and thought I would travel anyway. I got the call on Wednesday morning to say I was in, and I think some of the Indian players struggled to get visas which is how I got my start."
He's looking forward to challenging over the weekend.
"The rough is up this year, which is going to make it interesting over the weekend. You've really got to take advantage of the par fives and that's something I've done the last couple of days - a couple of eagles and a couple of birdies."
Thailand's Pavit Tangkamolprasert shot the round of the day, an eight-under 64 at The Hills, to move to nine-under par and a tie for third with Australian Lucas Herbert, two shots from the lead.
Kieran Muir is the best of the Kiwis in a tie for fifth with Australian Brad Kennedy after carding a six-under par 65 at Millbrook to move to eight-under. There's a healthy Kiwi presence on the leaderboard with Harry Bateman and 2017 champion Michael Hendry both four shots off the pace on seven-under par. Hendry scorched The Hills with a six-under 66 to move into contention for the weekend.
"My ball striking was good, and the bad shots were in good places. Even though I feel like I am not hitting the ball fantastic, my bad shots are pretty usable and that was the key today," Hendry analysed, though he did have one lament.
"I feel like I've putted quite poorly. There was a lot of really good opportunities that I missed - other than the scratchy shots I hit, I probably gave myself a dozen really good looks at birdie.
"If I can continue to hit the ball the way I am - getting away with the bad shots, not missing a lot of greens and fairways - and start seeing the ball roll in there's no reason why I can't be close on Sunday."
Another young Kiwi who could feature over the weekend is Denzel Ieremia. He finished strongly at Millbrook including making eagle on the par-five 17th to be handily placed at four-under.