Date: February 24, 2007
Author: Tim Webster

Nitties second behind American

By Tim Webster at Clearwater For a while it looked at if the first day leader, Ryan Howison, would fade away as the HSBC NZPGA progressed. Not so. The gutsy American shot a two-under 70 on Saturday to reclaim the outright lead at six-under for the Championship. Australian James Nitties is one behind at five-under having carded level-par for the day. The Clearwater gloom lifted around midday but damage limitation rapidly became the name of the game as the players battled to come to terms with a howling north-easterly, making the course a difficult one to get around. The round of the day came from Wellingtonian Mark Brown – who, having made the cut right on the number, had an amazing error-free 66 to move from two-over to four-under par for the Championship. Brown was joined two shots off the pace by Queenslander Peter Senior, who had a two-over 74, Americans Sal Stallone, Nicholas Thompson and Lee Williamson and Canadian David Morland IV. One behind on three-under are Australians Aaron Townsend and Matthew Jones. Kiwi Tim Wilkinson is four off the pace at two-under for the Championship as is one of the overnight leaders Chez Reavie (USA), who double-bogeyed 16 to card a four-over 76. Experienced Australian Craig Parry has moved quietly through the field in the third round and lies just four shots off the lead at two-under. Two other notable rounds came from Australian youngster Jason Day, who shot a four-under 68 to move to two-under, and compatriot Marc Leishman, who had a three-under 69 and is now one-under for the Championship. Ten New Zealanders made the cut on Saturday, including Phil Tataraungi – who, having held it together all day, double-bogeyed 18 for a disappointing four-over 76 to be one-under for the Championship. David Smail is at even par, Grant Moorhead is four-over, Mahal Pearce is plus-six and Bradley Iles and Steve Alker are plus-seven. With just four shots covering the leading 16 players the Christchurch crowds should be in for a hugely exciting final day when winds are expected to abate.