Lyle, Rumford lead NZ PGA into weekend

BY | Tour | 2006 NZ PGA Championship | Round Two | 24 Feb 2006
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Victorian Jarrod Lyle and the bogey-free West Australian Brett Rumford head the aussie charge as they share the lead at 7 under at the 2006 ING NZ PGA Championship at Clearwater at the end of the second day of play.

Lyle fired a sensational six-under 66 adding to his overnight score of one-under, while Rumford completed his first round of 69 in the morning (after rain disrupted play on Thursday) and followed up with a solid 68 to hold a one shot lead.

Twelve months ago, Lyle shared the halfway lead with New South Welshman Peter O’Malley, but whereas O’Malley went on to record his second win at Clearwater, Lyle drifted to a share of 22nd.

“I’m definitely happy to be on top and be in contention heading into the weekend” 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 a 11m 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 things.”

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

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

Rumford, the Irish Open champion on the European Tour two years ago, had to get up 90 minutes earlier than expected, to putt out on 17 and play 18 to finish his first round. Twenty-seven players were beaten by fading light on the first day.

He parred both for 69, the second-best first round, and went one better in his second round. His 36 holes have been bogey-free with seven birdies and 29 pars.

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

The most notable player to miss the cut was defending champion, New South Welshman Peter O’Malley, the only player to have won twice at Clearwater. When he won the inaugural Clearwater Classic by five shots in 2002, he was five-under par; this time he was six-over. Just when he was fighting back into contention, he four-putted the 13th from 2m.

The joint leaders are one stroke clear of American Matt Hendrix who carded a brilliant 67 on the second day of the tournament.

American Chris Tidland (70-69) and New Zealander Steve Alker – who went on a rampage on Friday with a seven-under 65 – are the next best two behind the lead.

Local boy Alker fired the best round to date in the Championship, and raised hopes of a first New Zealand victory at Clearwater since the co-sanctioned PGA Tour of Australasia and United States Nationwide Tour event came to Christchurch in 2002.

Seventy of the 156 starters qualified for the last two rounds with the cut at two-over. Whereas only 14 players bettered the par of 72 in the first round, 67 were in the red figures today, the gales of the first day becoming a breeze for the second round.

Recent Johnnie Walker Classic winner American Kevin Stadler remains well in the hunt for another victory after a 69 today to be four-under for the event.

A host of players are at three-under for the championship, including Australians Nick Flanagan (70), Stephen Allan (70), Aron Price (70) and Paul Gow (67).

Defending champion Peter O’Malley will be joined in missing the cut by players including local hopefuls Brad Iles, Grant Waite & Stephen Scahill and high profile players like American Chip Beck and Peter Tomasulo.

The third round of the 2006 ING NZ PGA Championship starts tomorrow with the first groups out at 8:10am.

Source – PGA Tour

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