Townsend and Ballard early lead at NZPGA
BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2013 New Zealand PGA Pro-Am Championship | General | 28 Feb 2013
Queenslander Matthew Ballard and New South Welshman Aaron Townsend have the early lead at the NZPGA Championship at the Hills Golf Club near Queenstown in the Central Otago region of NZ
Townsend finished an hour or so earlier than Ballard but both had absolutely stunning conditions in which to play their rounds and the early scoring reflected not only great overhead conditions but a golf course which was in the best condition it has ever been for tournament golf.
Townsend, who showed an improvement to his recent form when 6th at last week’s Victorian Open, free a bogey free round of 66 and while Ballard’s round was a little more of a roller coaster they are both at 6 under and one ahead of a large group at 5 under which included Troy Cox, defending champion Michael Hendry, Stephen Dartnall and Leigh Deagan.
Townsend recorded a final round of 66 at 13th Beach last week and has carried that form over to this week. It was a change of fortune for Townsend who indicated he had not played well her previously. "I have struggled with this course in the past so I am hoping that today’s round will put an end to that, said the leader.
It was a round that could well have been considerably better. I hit it to ten feet probably four times on my front nine and missed but I was hitting good puts so I wasn’t too disappointed. I figured if I stayed patient the putts would eventually find the bottom."
Ballard on the other hand has a better record at the Hills Golf Club but his round reversed a recent run of outs. Missing his last four cuts Ballard was beginning to wonder when things would turn around but a visit to one of his favourite places has changed his fortune.
“I have had several good finishes here and love Queesntown,” said Ballard. "I had a run through the middle of my round where I had two consecutive eagles and 10 birdies so for a period of six holes I was six under and that got things going after an early birdie.
Cox led the Tour School late last year after a year working away from golf. When he returned he won his playing rights at the Tour School on the Mornington Peninsula and is back doing what he loves.
Hendry is arguably Australasia’s most improved player in recent times, having won this event twelve months ago and finished runner-up on the PGA Tour of Australasia’s 2012 money list a performance that will see him play the Cadillac Championship next week in Florida.
Dartnall is a former world number one amateur and Leigh Deagan.
As the afternoon field heads out on day one there is a general consensus that the scoring will remain good all day.
Discuss this article in our forums