Scott Strange leads NZ Open
BY iseekgolf.com | Australasian PGA Tour | 2006 New Zealand Open | Round One | 30 Nov 2006
Western Australian Scott Strange birdied his last two holes to hold a one-shot lead after day one of the $1.5 million Blue Chip New Zealand Open at Gulf Harbour today.
Just when it seemed four Australians would be joint leaders after round one, Strange, in one of the final groups, made his late run which took him past fellow Western Australians Australians Kim Felton and Jarrod Moseley and New South Welshman Greg Chalmers.
Strange’s four-under 67 included five birdies – three in his last four holes – and just the one bogey at the par-4 16th where the tee had been moved up from the practice rounds and he was unsure of his distance. He found the rough and chipped and two-putted.
But a 1.5m birdie putt at 17 and a 5m putt birdie putt at the difficult finishing hole more than compensated.
The strong wind and heavy deluge which soaked the players late in the morning to mid-afternoon had eased considerably as Strange made the turn and he admitted he got a lucky break with the weather.
Strange, 29, who mainly plays on the Asian tour and is 12th on the money list this year, won the 2005 Myanmar Open in Burma and he led all the way to claim the Phillipines in May this year.
Chalmers also played in the afternoon and based his three-under 68 around three 2s on his card. He and Felton had both been four-under after 17 holes but both bogeyed the last.
The leaderboard in the $1.5 million event co-sanctioned by the European and Australasian tours was crammed, however, with nine players on two-under and another 15 on one-under 70.
New Zealand was well represented in the leading pack with old hands Michael Long, and Stephen Scahill on two-under along with fledgling Hamilton professional Mark Purser, who dropped a shot at his finishing hole.
Purser, in his first 72-hole event as a professional, said he was pretty nervous playing the open for the first time.
“So I was a little tentative, but I made quite a few good putts on the back nine. Then I started to strike the ball better and the birdies came. I just wanted a good solid round to begin with and I was really pleased it went to plan.”
Australian veterans Craig Parry and Peter Senior, New South Welshman Marcus Fraser, and three Englishman, Lee James, Nick Dougherty and Simon Wakefield were also on two-under.
Chalmers, while naturally disappointed at bogeying the last – he had six birdies and three bogeys – said he controlled the ball well, recovered deftly on the few times he found trouble, and enjoyed a bit of luck.
He was delighted at playing the four par-3s in three-under saying the short holes were usually his nemesis.
“That was a reflection on how well I struck my irons.”
Neither did he five-putt as he did in the last round of the Mastercard Masters at Huntingdale last Sunday when tied for the lead. He eventually finished tied for second.
“I truly believe that was an aberration, the first one in 13 years as a pro. I’m a confident putter when going well.”
Photo – Photopress
Source – NZ Open