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Fowler Grabs Share Of First Round Lead In Carrus Tauranga Open

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Former New Zealand Open winner Peter Fowler and fellow professional Blair Shaw (Hawkes Bay) took advantage of the still morning conditions to lead after the first round of the Carrus Tauranga Open today.

Fowler, the European Tour veteran, and Shaw both fired five-under par 65s in the opening tournament of the 2009 Charles Tour at Tauranga Golf Club today.

They hold a one shot advantage over Wellington professional Andrew Green, the 2006 New Zealand Amateur champion, and last year's Taranaki Open winner Troy Ropiha, who were the best of the afternoon players.

There is a group of six players who share fifth place on three-under 67 that includes leading amateurs Aaron Leech (Cambridge) and Mt Maunganui teenager Brad Kendall along with professionals Dale Clarke (Australia), North Harbour's Michael Hendry and Josh Carmichael and local hope Jared Pender.

In all there were 31 players on par of better on a Tauranga course that was receptive after the wet weather at the weekend, although the cool winds proved testing later in the afternoon to thwart a number of promising charges.

The highlight of the morning round was a hole-in-one by Shaw at the par-3 fifth hole in a round that also included four birdies and one dropped shot.

"I struck my irons well and hit them on the correct side of the hole," Shaw said. "And I hit a hole in one. I didn't even see it land. When we got to the green there was a pitch mark six inches from the hole and the ball was in the bottom of the cup."

Shaw has promised much but his temperament has sometimes proved his downfall.

"The key to me was just getting the right mindset," Shaw said. "I am trying to put it all together in a tournament and stay relaxed and positive. It's about believing that if I stuck to my game plan, hit the shots I wanted to and if it didn't happen then stay, stay patient and it will come."

Fowler, recovering from recent hip surgery, is using his first foray into the Charles Tour to work his way back to full fitness as he eyes a move to the European Seniors Tour and hopefully the US Seniors this year.

The former New Zealand and Australian Open champion fired an eagle and three birdies in a blemish-free round.

"I was pretty happy to get off to a good start," Fowler said. "It's early days for me but I was reasonably happy with how I scored. I need to hit the ball a lot better yet but I am still a bit stiff coming back from the hip surgery. It's still a couple of months away from peak fitness for me."

Fowler is a fan of the Charles Tour concept.

"It's the first time I have played this course and the first time in this Tour with the amateurs playing which is good fun because I know a few of the young amateurs.

"I think the concept is great. In my years in Europe it is the same concept that is played in Sweden and works well. I think the country the size of New Zealand it is the only way it should go."

The 10-strong women's field, who will play over 54 holes, sees four players tied for the lead on one-over par including New Zealand Amateur champion Cecilia Cho (Pakuranga), the runner-up Lydia Ko (Pupuke), the 2006 amateur champion Larissa Eruera (Aviation0 and Srixon Academy player Emily Perry (Lochiel).

There is a full field of 50 professionals and 70 amateurs, including 10 females, competing in the $40,000 event. The Srixon-sponsored Charles Tour is organised by New Zealand Golf in partnership with the NZPGA for elite New Zealand professionals and amateurs, both male and female.

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