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Ropiha Sizzles Into Lead In Youthtown Wairakei Open

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

20 September 2008 - Taupo amateur Troy Ropiha, with a new lease of golfing life, shot a brilliant six-under par 66 to grab the lead after three rounds of the Youthtown Wairakei Open in his home town today.

Ropiha, who moved to Taupo earlier this year with his family from Taranaki, will take a one shot lead into tomorrow's final round of the Charles Tour event at the Wairakei International course.

He is on eight-under par 205 for 54 holes, leading inform professionals Doug Holloway and Josh Geary by one shot, with a further two shots back to Taranaki professional Grant Moorhead.

Holloway, the overnight leader and defending champion, shot to the lead early today but could not ram home that advantage, settling for a solid three-under par 69 to move to seven-under par.

Geary, who returned from his breakthrough win on the Canadian Tour last month, enjoyed a great day around the greens to shoot with a four under 68 to also move to seven-under.

Moorhead fired a two-under 70 to be in fourth place on five-under with Auckland's Ryan Fox, the first round leader, and Wellington's Peter Spearman-Burn sharing fifth on two under.

Three players share seventh place on one-under including international Sean Riordan (Takaka), Christchurch professional Richard Anderson and Wellington professional Brenden Stuart.

The day belonged to the 26-year-old Ropiha who bagged six birdies without blemish in his joint best competition round at Wairakei, matching his first round effort in the same event last year. In doing so the former Taranaki player has rekindled his passion for the game.

"It's been a really good move here. I am a whole lot happier and I am in a much better frame of mind. I think my golf has responded accordingly," Ropiha said.

After an early birdie, the former New Zealand representative rattled off three birdies in a row midround and two at the end in a superb display.

"It made sense to move when my parents were offered jobs here and my coach is also here. I am also working four days a week and that's been really stimulating. I go to the course now to practise not use it to full out my day."

Ropiha is looking forward to the challenge tomorrow and hopes his continued good form might attract a backer towards his goal of turning professional.

Holloway, who birdied the first three holes, was less pleased with his round, and more particularly his lack of fortune on the greens.

"I played okay but I am just not holing any putts. They are not bad putts, but they are just not going in," the Hawkes Bay player said. "I struggled in the middle of the round with a couple of average golf shots.

"I am pretty disappointed overall. I had a two putt birdie at the first and all my other birdies were inside a metre."

Holloway said it was similar to last year when he did not make any putts until some clutch efforts down the stretch to win the tournament.

Geary, back after a break from the game, was pleased with his scoring but not the purity of his ball striking again today.

He turned at two-under and missed four further birdies with two dropped shots coming home, as he chases his second win in the Charles Tour tomorrow.

"The striking is a little better but still not there. I putted really well. My stats look okay but it is just bad ball striking for me.

"I am happy to be where I am in the tournament right now and a good day give me a chance. I am looking forward to it."

Geary has returned to New Zealand for the two Charles Tour events to prepare him for the upcoming US Qualifying School, and he hopes two strong performances at Wairakei and New Plymouth in two weeks might see him top the ladder in the initial Charles Tour.

New Zealand amateur champion Dana Kim (Christchurch) and Auckland's Tania Tare share the women's lead on nine-over 225.

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