Mark Brown has poked his nose in front after taking advantage of the benign morning conditions at the Renaissance Brewing New Zealand Stroke Play Championship held at Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club. Brown sits at eight-under for the tournament after a second round of two-under to lead by one over his good mate Michael Hendry. After teeing off early this morning, Brown struggled on his opening nine and made the turn at one-over par. However, he heated up on the back nine and made birdies on the 10th, 12th, and 18th holes to sign for two-under and take the clubhouse lead. Brown says it was a good day at the office.
“It was a bit hard to get going this morning, I was a little stiff and sore which is the nature of my body at the moment. It was a little cold as well, but I managed to get moving as the round went on.” Brown also says that it’s great to have another Jennian Homes Charles Tour event on the calendar and is looking forward to the challenge of adding his name to a brand new trophy. “It’s been a long time since I’ve played in the New Zealand Stroke Play but it feels pretty much the same as all the other Jennian Homes Charles Tour events out here. It’s great to play with some of the top amateurs around the country, especially out here, it’s a great concept.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve had my name on any national championship and it’d be a great honor to get my name on that new trophy,” he explains.
One of the overnight leaders Michael Hendry was tied at the top for the majority of the afternoon.
He opened with a birdie at the first to get his day off to a solid start and added another at the seventh to get to two-under for the day and be tied with Brown.
Hendry added another birdie at the 11th to start his back nine but made an uncharacteristic bogey at the 12th to drop back in a tie for the lead. A birdie at the 17th meant he had his nose in front of Brown playing his final hole of the day. However, another uncharacteristic blemish on last which resulted in a double bogey meant he fell out of the lead an one behind. Hendry says it a was good day on the links for the most part.
“Generally, it was really good out there. I missed a couple of tee shots; one down the 12th which pretty much took birdie out of the equation and the same thing happened down the 18th where I hit it in the fairway bunker against the lip and was struggling from there.
“I then made a bad error around the green. I suppose I wasn’t paying attention to the shot that was required; I should have bump and ran one, instead I went for the lofted shot. It was an annoying way to finish but all in all it was an okay round of golf out there,” he says.
Two-time St Andrews Salver winner Luke Toomey sits a further shot back.
A shot further back of Toomey is Darae Chung who has taken the lead for the Mellsop Cup which is given to the leading women’s amateur in the field.
Chung fired the round of the day this morning, a five-under 66 which included six-birdies and just the one blemish on her final hole of the day.
She says she’s drawing on some hometown energy this week, and hopes it pays dividends as she looks to climb her way up the leaderboard.
“It’s quite exciting. It’s always been a goal of mine to win the New Zealand Stroke Play and I’ll try my best to win it in front of some home support. I’ll definitely draw on some of that energy over the weekend. “It’s much better for me to have the likes of Michael Hendry and Mark Brown in the field who are setting the bar really high and it’s a different standard for me to aim for,” she explains. Her game plan has been simple; put the ball in the right spots to give herself the best chance at making birdies, something which she’s executed well so far. “Everything was really steady, I stuck to my plan and I putted great.
“I just wanted to place the ball in the right spots. The pins were quite tough, they were tucked away in a few spots, but some local knowledge managed to get me through, and I holed a few putts which was nice,” Chung says.
Meanwhile three amateurs are tied for the lead for the St Andrews Salver which is given to the leading male amateur.
Sam Jones, Kazuma Kobori, and Tyler Wood are all tied on four-under par and will do battle for the country’s premier stroke play trophy.
The tournament cut was made at eight-over while the women’s amateur cut was made at 18-over par.
Play gets underway again at 8 o’clock Saturday morning.
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