Date: February 28, 2013
Author: Omnisport

Australian trio grab NZ lead

Australians Adam Bland, Aaron Townsend and Matthew Ballard share the lead after the opening day of the NZPGA Championship in Queenstown. The trio all fired rounds of six-under 66 to take a one-shot advantage over a chasing pack of eight players including defending champion Michael Hendry from New Zealand. Townsend took advantage of the benign morning conditions to shoot a bogey-free round. The 31-year-old, who claimed a top-10 finish at last week&aposs Victorian Open Championship, capped off his day with a birdie on the 18th. “It was very lucky to start well – we had perfect conditions this morning so it was nice just to make six birdies and no bogeys, it was a pretty stress-free round,” he said. “I played really good on my front nine – I hit it to 10 feet probably four times that I then missed, but I was hitting good putts so I wasn&apost too disappointed. “I just knew to stay patient and they&aposd eventually find the bottom.” Ballard&aposs round was highlighted by two consecutive eagles on the par-five 17th and par-four 18th holes. Having missed the cut at his last four PGA Tour of Australasia tournaments, the 35-year-old was simply relieved to have a good day at the office. “Golf is a funny thing, you never know what&aposs around the corner – I keep telling myself that and the proof is in the pudding today,” he said. Starting the day on the ninth tee, Bland fired an eagle, six birdies and two pars on his closing nine holes to surge up the leaderboard. On a congested leaderboard, Hendry shares fourth place with fellow New Zealander Mathew Perry and Australians Troy Cox, Stephen Dartnell, Leigh Deagan, Rohan Blizzard, Anthony Brown and Kim Felton. A further 10 players, including five-time Japan Tour winner Toshinori Muto, are on four under in a tie for 12th place. New Zealand Open champion Jake Higginbottom and Peter Fowler are among a group of eight players a shot further back.