Blyth and Lee take NZ Open lead
BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2014 New Zealand Open | Round Two | 28 Feb 2014
40 year old New Zealander, Richard Lee, and 32 year old Queenslander, Adam Blyth, lead through the opening 36 holes of the New Zealand Open in Arrowtown near Queenstown in the Central Otago region of New Zealand.
On a day where snow fell on the surrounding hills and cold winds buffeted both the Hills and Millbrook layouts, Lee and Blyth finished at 9 under par to lead by two over Australian Rookie of the year in 2013, Dimitri Papadatos, and former New Zealand Amateur Champion, Matthew Perry.
Lee, who recently regained his Japan Tour card, is a former New Zealand Amateur Champion who interestingly enough defeated Michael Campbell to win that event in 1992 although the pair have gone in distinctly different directions ever since.
Lee has played in Asia and Japan on occasions during his professional career but has never really achieved the heights his amateur career suggested it might but over the next two day he has an opportunity to add a New Zealand Open title to that New Zealand Amateur Championship.
Blyth, originally from Yeppoon in Central Queensland but more recently from Brisbane, has played in Asia for much of his professional career but he recently lost status there so this is a particularly important week for him.
Blyth’s round of 65 was simply stunning in the conditions and was, by two shots, the best of the day.
Another former New Zealand Amateur, in fact a two time one, is the West Australian Matt Jager who is also an Australian Amateur Champion and 2011 British Amateur Champion, Bryden Macpherson.
Jager lost his status in Asia last year and unfortunately was unable to regain it at the Asian Tour School earlier this year but he does have PGA Tour of Australasia status having finished runner-up at the recent Tour School.
Somewhat like Lee, he is a player much better than the results in his professional career would suggest and this weekend could potentially provide a turning point for Jager.
Macpherson finished 4th at the 2013 Australian Open at Royal Sydney and as a consequence has earned the right to play the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in July of this year.
New Zealanders Ryan Fox, Mark Brown, David Klein and joint first round leader Terry Pilkadaris from Victoria are tied in 7th position and four shots from the lead.
The cut fell at 1 over par which would mean that the winner of events the last two years at The Hills, Mike Hendry, has only just made the cut on the number.
Tournament marquee player, Rocco Mediate, missed the cut but as he and pro am playing partner Mark Richardson made it into the leading 35 teams, Mediate will get to play in the weekend field.
The leading team in the pro am is the combination of friends Brody Ninyette and Sam Hamilton who are a massive 25 under and nine shots ahead of the field.