It&aposs hard to imagine Kiwi Gareth Paddison being any more laidback at the halfway stage of the NZ PGA Championship, lest he end up horizontal. That may stand to reason on the surface, given he finished round two as the outright leader at nine-under, yet it could have been so much better. The affable left-hander was seven-under with four holes remaining on Thursday until slicing into the water on the 18th and finishing with a double-bogey six. He then bogeyed his opening hole the next day, an ugly six at the par-five 10th, stormed back with four birdies on the back nine and one at the par-four first before parring in on a stretch that included a missed three-footer for birdie on the eighth. If a slightly misfiring putter had&aposve come to the party, he might have carried more than a one-stroke advantage in the interview area after his round. But Paddison was a picture of relaxation as he chose to accentuate the positives rather than dwell on the negatives. “I played really solidly today,” he said, minutes after draining a five-footer right in the heart of the hole for par on the ninth. “To finish the round off four-under for the day, nine-under for the tournament I think that putt on the last was crucial.” “Looking back on the round you can&apost complain about what I&aposve just done.” When asked to recall the last time he was at the head of a field, Paddison was at a loss to give a definitive answer but offered a guess that it may have been as far back as his victory at the European Challenge Tour&aposs Allianz Open des Volcans in France in 2007. His name was nowhere to be seen early on Friday after his opening bogey – one that was met with &aposwords I can&apost repeat really&apos – but three birdies in a row brought on the nerves that are associated with a golfer&aposs surname being slid onto a greenside leaderboard. “You do get nervous out there – I think it&aposs hard not to if you make a birdie and see your name near the top of the leaderboard because it&aposs certainly not been there much in the past,” he said. “I feel very good about my game, very settled with my emotions. It&aposs a matter of trying to push on from here and I&aposm glad I&aposve stayed very focused so far, which I think showed part of my demeanour being relaxed.” He was not even prepared to wish ill on the afternoon starters in the hope that the howling winds that often whip up around Clearwater did so later on that day. “If it blows this arvo it doesn&apost worry me because I&aposm in the clubhouse but if not it&aposs quite nice because you get guys bitching and moaning that they&aposve been shafted by the draw. It&aposs been a very equal draw really.” With his mother, father and sister all in attendance, along with his sister&aposs boyfriend Jason caddying for him for the first time, Paddison will not lack support as he seeks victory and a full exemption to the second-tier US Nationwide Tour.
Author: Dean Wedlake at Clearwater, Sportal