Aussie Lyle makes move at NZ PGA

BY | Tour | 2006 NZ PGA Championship | Round Two | 24 Feb 2006
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Victorian Jarrod Lyle took advantage of the much improved conditions at Clearwater this morning for the second round of the ING New Zealand PGA Championship, to card a six-under par 66 and be joint tournament leader after the 78 morning starters had completed their rounds.

Fellow Australian, Brett Rumford, who had to get up at 5.30am to finish his first round that was cut short by fading light yesterday, had his second bogey-free round to be at seven-under on 137 at the half way mark of the $US600,000 tournament. Lyle and Rumford were joined by early afternoon starter, American Jason Dufner.

Dufner, the overnight leader by three after his five-under 67 in the blustery southerly wind, birdied two of his first three holes this afternoon to join Lyle and Rumford at the top of the leaderboard with another American Matt Hendrix, who shot 67 today, alone in fourth on six-under.

Seasoned Kiwi professional David Smail, with a three-under 69 this morning, and left-handed Gareth Paddison, who had an afternoon start, were the best of the 19 New Zealanders in the 156-strong field, with Smail finishing at two-under and Paddison the same through six holes.

Twelve months ago, Lyle shared the halfway lead with New South Welshman Peter O’Malley, but where O’Malley went on to record his second win at Clearwater in the co-sanctioned PGA Tour of Australasia and United States Nationwide tour event, Lyle drifted to a share of 22nd.

“I’m definitely happy to be on top and with another chance to win,” Lyle, 24, said. “This is one of those courses that suits me. I love the greens here.”

Lyle needed only 24 putts today – seven fewer than his first round – and finished his round with an 11 metre birdie putt across the green on the par-3 ninth hole.

“It’s always good to hole a few putts and that 35-footer across the green never looked like missing so it was a satisfying way to finish especially after I had dunked it in the water on the eighth hole. But that’s just the way it is.”

Lyle said he took a No. 2 iron off the tee but cut it right into the water. “It was just a bad shot. You can’t really dwell on those sort of things.”

Lyle, who spent nine months in hospital in 1999 fighting leukemia, was runner-up in the Australian and New Zealand Amateur championships in 2004 and represented Australia at the Eisenhower Trophy team tournament, turning professional the same year.

In 2005 he finished third in the Heineken Classic at Royal Melbourne behind Craig Parry and Nick O’Hern and finished 11th on the Australasian Tour Order of Merit.

Rumford, the Irish Open champion two years ago on the European Tour, said he was up 90 minutes before expected, to putt out on 17 and play 18 to finish his first round from Thursday. He parred both for 69, the second-best first round, and went one better in his second round. His 36 holes have produced seven birdies and 29 pars.

Rumford, on his second visit to Clearwater, said he had a good feel about the tournament and was driving it well and playing solid over all.

The West Australian said he wasn’t worried whether the wind returned at the weekend – “in fact I would rather it blow.”

The usually unflappable Smail admitted he lost his temper in the tough conditions on the first day, but he was back on track today even after bogeys on his third and fourth holes. After that it was all plain sailing, playing last 14 holes in five-under with a homeward half of four-under 32.

Source – PGA Tour

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