Americans take early control at NZ Open
BY Bruce Young | Web.com Tour | 2009 New Zealand Open | Round One | 12 Mar 2009
In what could only be described as a miraculous reversal of weather conditions, day one of the Michael Hill New Zealand Open got under way at the Hills Golf Club near Queenstown and the scoring reflected the near perfect conditions.
The morning after one of the coldest March days ever recorded in the history of Queenstown, the tournament organisers at the co-sanctioned event would have been delighted with the turnaround.
Those out in the morning field were quick to take advantage and at the end of the morning’s play it was the Americans who led the way.
36-year-old Todd Demsey who has yet to record a victory in either his Nationwide of PGA Tour career put together a bogey free round of 65.
Demsey, who played the PGA Tour in 2008, has his family with him on this trip and played only one practice round on Monday before taking in some of the activities. He missed the cut last week in Christchurch but put that down to his trip down here, having arrived only on the Monday in Christchurch.
“I thought when I played here on Monday this week that even par would be a good score for the week as I had not played the course in good conditions.”
15 minutes after Demsey had finished his round he was joined in the clubhouse lead by fellow American Josh Teater. It was a round that could have been a little better however as a double bogey at his final hole after visiting the fairway and greenside traps cost Teater the outright lead.
Teater played well in Christchurch before finishing in a share of 7th.
“I played well the first two days and in Sunday there but the third round was not so good.”
Teater had all but locked up his PGA Tour card at the USPGA Tour School last year with just a few holes to play but he faltered over the closing five holes dropping five shots but he sees the untimely lapse and the resultant missed opportunity as just a hiccup.
“I kind of think it is good to have a year on the Nationwide Tour as I can plan my schedule a lot better. Obviously I would like to have made it to the PGA Tour but I do believe this is the best thing for me.”
At 5 under were the West Australian Stephen Dartnall and American Martin Piller.
Dartnall is a young player improving rapidly. He was the leading world ranked amateur before turning professional two years ago and has played on mini tours and the occasional Nationwide Tour event since. He is fulfilling much of the promise he showed as an amateur. Dartnall led the Australian Open before finishing third and has shown glimpses of that form in his few events since.
Piller won the Texas State Open in 2008 but is in his rookie season on the Nationwide Tour after gaining his card via the Tour School last year. He finished 8th at the recent Moonah Classic and has made a good start in his 4th event.
Veteran Peter Senior and last week’s New Zealand PGA Champion, Steve Alker are in a large group at 4 under 68 as the morning draws to a close.
New Zealand’s Danny Lee dropped three shots in his final four holes to finish at 1 under 71.