Niclas Fasth on track at New Zealand Open
BY iseekgolf.com | Australasian PGA Tour | 2005 New Zealand Open | Round Two | 11 Feb 2005
Swede Niclas Fasth had a day he will long remember in the second round of the Holden New Zealand Open golf championship at Gulf Harbour today.
Despite playing in the afternoon when conditions were at their worst, the unperturbable Fasth marked three eagles on his card for the first time in equalling the course record of nine-under 63 and that helped him to a two-shot lead at the halfway mark of the $1.5 million tournament co-sanctioned by the European and Australasian tours.
Fasth was not the only one to prove the critics wrong in the afternoon. After English professional Miles Tunnicliff, an early starter, had fired a 63 in the more benign morning conditions, most confidently predicted that his round and his 14-under total of 130 would hold for the day.
But lanky lefthanded Victorian Richard Green, after a sensational seven-under 29 on the front nine (an eagle and five birdies), chipped in from 7m on the last for his eighth birdie and a fifth share of the record.
At the World Cup in 1998, American Scott Verplank and Swede Patrick Sjoland also returned 63s.
However, Fasth certainly held sway after 36 holes, his 65 and 63 leaving him at 16-under on 128. Tunnicliff was two shots back and alone in second place, with another English professional, Oliver Wilson, a stroke back.
Rounding out the top five were Queenslander Simon Nash and Western Australian Jarrod Moseley, the 2002 Australian PGA champion. They were on 132, 12-under par.
The scoring was again spectacular with the cut at four-under and 79 players left to fight for the $270,000 winning purse on Sunday afternoon.
Notable omissions were fancied Western Australian Nick O’Hern, Swede Pierre Fulke, American Ricky Barnes, and top-ranked Kiwis Michael Campbell and David Smail. The leading amateur, Bay of Plenty’s Josh Geary, was tied with his illustrious professional countrymen. But Geary will still receive the Bledisloe Cup as top amateur.
Steven Alker was comfortably the best of the 20 New Zealanders who started in the field of 156. He had eight birdies and one bogey in his 65 and finished tied for 13th on 10-under. Other Kiwis to make the cut were Gareth Paddison and Stephen Scahill, who were both on the bubble.
Fasth, 32, was not boasting when he described his 63 as “purely good play and really good putting”
“I played really well in the pro-am and was almost flawless today. You never know when the putts are going to drop, one day the long ones might drop and you miss the short ones.
Fasth, a former Ryder Cup player and runner-up to David Duval in the 2001 British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes, admitted he had a poor 2004 year, but he worked hard for six months during the winter and was confident he would play well this year.
“You have to believe in what you are doing. If you get down on yourself it takes more to turn it around.”
Two of his eagles were from one-putts on par-5 holes, but his third, on the 285m par-4 12th, came after he holed a bunker shot from 25m. Green, still on a high after catching a 5lb to 6lb schnapper on a fishing trip the previous night, reeled in the birdies on the golf course.
“I can’t remember shooting a score as low as that (29 on the front nine) since I was lad when I shot 28 or 29 at Huntingdale. It was a great feeling to carry through the back nine which is a lot tougher.”
Tunicliff, who resides in Malaga in Spain, had an uneventful start, a birdie and bogey in his first four holes, but then the hot streak started with a birdie at the fifth and an eagle at the sixth, the result of a drive, a No. 5 iron, “a friendly bounce” and a four-foot putt.
After that it was all smooth sailing as the 36-year-old carded six more birdies and no bogeys. He played solidly all day and held his game together over the final six holes which are recognized as a difficult finishing stretch.
“I wasn’t playing that well coming into the tournament. This is only my third event and I’ve been a bit rusty. But yesterday I started to feel a bit more comfortable and I got the putter working better today which made all the difference.”
His maiden European success was the 2002 Great North Open in England, a victory which came just a fortnight after the death of his mother through cancer.
Wilson, 24, did not drop a shot. He had seven birdies in his 65 and his seventh was through a good putt at the last.
He had to withdraw from the Heineken Classic last week after suffering a throat infection in Singapore en route to Australia.
“They thought it was pneumonia and I had to go to hospital, I was in bed all week and didn’t get to practice. I finished the first round but decided it was best not to continue.”
Nash, 26, made some vital 2m putts in a round which produced 13 pars and five birdies.
“This golf course suits my game. I haven’t been driving the ball that fantastic and the fairways are relatively wide. My short irons have been pretty good the last two days and I had a plan for the course which worked well. I made a lot of good putts.”
Source – NZGA