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Conditions Test Afternoon Golfers At NZ PGA Championship

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Conditions Test Afternoon Golfers At NZ PGA Championship

Blustery southerly winds and squally showers turned the afternoon round of the New Zealand PGA Championships at Clearwater, Christchurch, into a procession, all chasing morning leader, Australian Ashley Hall.

Hall went to lunch at seven under (68-69), two clear of New Zealander Mathew Holten, yet to tee off, and a further shot ahead of Anthony Doyle (71-69), also in the clubhouse and three afternoon starters, Australians Craig Hasthorpe, Jason Norris and Peter Wilson. Such were the conditions that the first six players at the end of the day's play all had morning rounds.

Only one player managed to break par in the afternoon compared with five in the morning, attesting to the difficult and deteriorating weather. Hall's immediate form coming into the event had been poor, the baggage of having just missed out on his European Tour Card at qualifying school in November affecting his game.

However, after a Christmas break, the winner of the 2007 Victorian Championships, the 2009 Victorian Open and 12th placegetter in the Australian Masters is back in the groove. Hall had five birdies and a double bogey in his round, his three under being the joint best round of the day, alongside Doyle and fellow Australian Stephen Allan.

"I was in the rough a bit today off the tee but recovered, so I will need to drive it straighter tomorrow," he said. The New Zealand challenge to win back-to-back PGA titles remains very much alive with five players, Doyle (2nd), Grant Moorhead and Gareth Paddison (T3) on 141 and Grant Waite and Holten (T10) on 143.

Doyle, the Christchurch Golf Club resident professional, who was in the first group to tee off at 7am, said that when he woke up this morning and saw the conditions, he thought: `bring on the rain'.'' And he was right, being the only golfer throughout the day not to drop a shot.

``The best thing about today was my putting, I've had no three-putts for the two rounds and I guess that's where you pick up your shots on the field.'' Doyle's second par for putt on the 18th green from five feet caught the edge but dropped in, but he said the clutch putt was at 17.

``I was down on the bottom tier and hit it about four feet past the hole.''

But it was not only his putting that was on song. He missed only two greens in regulation and ``maybe one or two fairways''. ``That's percentage play I guess and yesterday was the same. I actually hit it closer yesterday but the ball went in the hole today. I was on the practice green at about 6.30am and said to myself `keep to the same routine, trust it, and it worked pretty well.''

Doyle said his victory in the Charles Tour Shirley Open on his home course last November had given him belief he was at home in top company and he had found a game plan and routines which worked for him. Fifty players made the cut, at three over, a notable omission being defending champion Steve Alker who bogeyed the last hole to miss by one. Live scoring is on http://www.pga.org.au/

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