Lyle looks for maiden victory at NZ PGA

BY iseekgolf.com | Web.com Tour | 2006 NZ PGA Championship | Round Three | 25 Feb 2006

Young Victorian Jarrod Lyle will be aiming for his first victory as a professional after he finished day three of the ING NZ PGA Championships, two shots clear of the rest of the field.

Lyle broke away from overnight co–leader, fellow countryman Brett Rumford, who sits in outright second place on 8 under, whilst New South Welshman Paul Marantz makes it an Aussie hat-trick at the top of the leaderboard in third place on 6 under.

Lyle shot a round of 3 under 69, whilst Rumford was at 1 under for the day and Marantz picked up 4 shots to jump up to join the leaders in the final group tomorrow.

Recent Johnnie Walker Classic winner Kevin Stadler has given the leaders a reason to be looking over their shoulders after a third round 2 under that has seen him creep up into a tie for 3rd.

However, it is Lyle that has grabbed the headlines and understandably, despite tough conditions, he was pleased with the way his game went today.

“I played as well today as I have all week. My driving was solid and I gave myself plenty of chances to get it close, but it was a struggle,” he said. “The last seven or eight holes are all affected by cross winds and it was a nightmare trying to work out exactly how much the wind would affect the flight of the ball. You certainly don’t want to short-side yourself on any of these holes with some of the pin placements.”

Last year Lyle led this tournament after two rounds, was one shot behind after the third but faded badly in the last.

“I have learnt a lot since then, and although this is uncharted territory for me I am looking forward to it. I’m not sure how well I will sleep tonight, and I get nervous before any round, but I’ve started well every day so far and am keen to get away to a good start in the morning. I certainly have no intention of changing my game plan. I will use driver on the same holes I did today and I will look to attack the pin at every opportunity. On a course like this the lead could change 15 or 16 times tomorrow,” he said.

Rumford has only dropped one shot over 54 holes of the testing Clearwater layout. A winner of the Irish Open two years ago and a member of the European Tour, he has been extremely comfortable in the windy conditions that have prevailed over the last three days.

Such is the unforgiving nature of the Clearwater course that the four-shot advantage that Lyle holds over Stadler and Marantz can evaporate very quickly. Stadler, a two-time winner on the Nationwide Tour, and victorious at the prestigious Johnnie Walker tournament in Perth two weeks ago, had two birdies and a bogey in his round of 70. Marantz is the surprise of the tournament. Originally not in the field, he was one of four who pre-qualified for this tournament on Tuesday.

American Matt Hendrix was atop of the leaderboard at one stage on 10 under after an opening nine that included 4 birdies, but a disastrous start to the back nine which saw him bogey the 10th, 11th and 13th and card a double bogey on the 12th to drop back from 10-under to five-under through 15.

It was a disappointing day for the seven New Zealanders in the field, in particular Stephen Alker. After being in third place midway through the afternoon, a bogey at the 15th followed by a disastrous triple bogey at the 17th and a bogey at the 18th saw him crash down the leaderboard to 25th place. Best of the New Zealanders were Mahal Pearce and Michael Long who had two under par 70s for 17th place. Gareth Paddison had an even par round and is in 25th, David Smail is 30th after a 74 and Phil Tataurangi is in 44th place after an even par 72.

Last week’s Jacob’s Creek Open winner Paul Sheehan jumped up to a tie for 5th with South Australian Wade Ormsby and American Scott Dunlap.

The final round of the 2006 ING NZ PGA Championship begins at 8:05am tomorrow morning.




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