Prugh early second round lead at NZ Open
BY Bruce Young | Web.com Tour | 2009 New Zealand Open | Round Two | 13 Mar 2009
American Alex Prugh, who produced the low round on day one at the Michael Hill New Zealand Open in Queenstown, has followed that up with a one under 71 and at 8 under he leads the field at the halfway point of day two.
Prugh shared the overnight lead with Josh Teater and Todd Demsey but given that his opening round of 65 was recorded in the significantly more difficult afternoon conditions on Thursday, it was arguably the most impressive.
Out early on day two, Prugh made a quick start.
“I hit a 6 iron at my first hole (the 10th) and I thought was going to have a great day when I hit that to five or six inches,” said Prugh. “I hit a couple of wayward tee shots though and in fact I was lucky to find one of them at the 15th.” His playing partner found the ball at that hole some 30 metres from where he had been looking so in the end he was fortunate to have found the ball and to make bogey.
Prugh’s round was a roller coaster compared to his one bogey eight birdie round on day one. A birdie at his last hole was a nice way to break himself clear of a four way tie at 7 under.
“I am normally a very aggressive player and I thought about taking driver there but hit 3 wood, then 5 iron then wedge to a couple of feet.” That set up a final birdie and the outright lead.
New Zealander Josh Geary, fresh from his runner up finish at last week’s New Zealand PGA Championship at the Clearwater Resort in Christchurch, was one of those one behind the lead after his round of 65 continued his good run of form.
Geary started the round in a share of 56th position at even par but five consecutive birdies from the 10th hole en route to his homeward nine of 31 swept him to a share of the lead at the completion of his round before Prugh signed for his round of 64 soon after.
Geary had been 2 over at one stage of his first round but his brother Brad, who is caddying for him this week, reminded him of the need to be patient and two late birdies saw him finish at even par 72. Despite not having the best of the draw he has done well to be very much in the thick of things heading into the weekend.
“I hit the ball pretty bad yesterday and made some bad decisions but today it was more like last week, said Geary. “Yesterday was out of the blue really but in the end it felt pretty good to get it back to par.”
Geary has played the Canadian Tour in the last two years and in 2008 won an event there but in what he describes as perhaps the most significant moment of his season to date, it might just be that success in the International Qualifying for the Open Championship is the catalyst for his recent run of form. He gained a spot at the Open Championship at Turnberry via International Final Qualifying at Kingston Heath in early February.
For Geary this week is a significant week and potentially a career changing one. With $US50,000 to his name last week, another good finish this week will all but ensure the Bay of Plenty golfer the opportunity of Special Temporary membership on the Nationwide Tour in 2009. While that does not guarantee him a great deal in terms of starts it allows him to become a member and then play that Tour either by Monday qualifying or unlimited sponsor’s exemptions should he be able to secure such. If he was to win however he would automatically have full Nationwide Tour status.
Another to play his back nine holes in 31 was the 43 year old Canadian Ian Leggatt whose round of 64 included five birdies in his last seven holes and the winner of the 2002 Tucson Open on the PGA Tour moved from obscurity to contention finishing at 6 under.
As the weather improved throughout the day those players heading out in the afternoon field have the better of the draw on the opening two days but Prugh has set a target that will require some very good play to topple.