Pieter Zwart has posted his second consecutive under-par round at the Autex Muriwai Open this morning to take the lead at the tournament’s midway point.

Zwart has carded back-to-back rounds of three-under 69 to lead by one over Wellington’s Harry Bateman at six-under.

He teed off this morning in the rain and got off to a scorching start making a birdie on the first and an eagle at the second to catapult himself into a tie for the lead. He made his first blemish of the day on the fourth with a bogey but got that shot back immediately at the fifth with another birdie.

He parred the remaining holes on the front to make the turn in three-under for the day.

Zwart, who won the event in 2016, made another birdie at the short par 5 12th. After bogeying the 13th, he made back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th before the winds picked up and the rain disappeared. He finished with bogeys on the 16th and 17th and made a great par on the 18th to post the early clubhouse lead.

With the wind picking up this afternoon, he watched the leaders slowly fall back from the warmth of the clubhouse.

Pieter Zwart on his day:

How do you sum up your day today?

“I’m pleasantly surprised to be honest. I thought with the calibre of players that are playing that I may be there or thereabouts, but to be leading is very pleasing.”

“As much as the weather was tricky this afternoon, we also had a tonne of rain and a little bit of wind this morning, so I played pretty good given the limited amount of golf that I’ve been playing. I’m pretty happy.”

How is your game tracking? You’re obviously playing some great golf?

“I’m playing really consistently right throughout the bag. I’ve been thinking a lot about where I need to be leaving the ball, especially into the par 5’s where you don’t want to short-side yourself. Otherwise, you’ve got no chance of getting the ball up and down.

“It’s a credit to the golf course. It’s a great layout and is in even better condition.”

Did you think you’d be leading after your second round?

“With four holes to go, probably not.

“When the wind picked up I thought I definitely wouldn’t have lost ground, especially after yesterday’s round.”

What has your game plan been so far?

“I came here with no expectations and am very relaxed. I’m just taking everything as it comes. I want to ensure the ball is always in play and see what happens.”

You’ve won this event before in 2016, is there any experience you can draw from that heading into the weekend?

“I can certainly call on a little bit, but it’s been a while in between drinks, so it feels a bit foreign at the moment. Experience around here is very important, and to have a memory like that; I hope it serves me well over the weekend.”

Chasing Zwart going into the weekend is Harry Bateman with rounds of 66 and 73.

Bateman got off to a flyer in brutal conditions this afternoon which saw the south-westerly winds pick up to 60km an hour.

He made an eagle on the second and added birdies on the fourth and sixth which meant he made the turn in four-under-par. At the time, he held a four-shot lead.

Unfortunately, it was a game of two halves for Bateman. He made back-to-back bogeys at ten and 11 and made further bogeys at 14, 16, and 18 to come home in five-over and post 73.

Harry Bateman on his day:

It was obviously very tough out there this afternoon Harry, how do you sum up your second round?

“It was pretty brutal out there. I got off to a flyer and holed a couple of putts early and somehow, I was four-under through the front nine.

“Unfortunately with the conditions the way they were this afternoon, I kind of knew it was never going to last. I leaked a few coming home and it could have easily been one or two over, and instead, I was five-over which was a bit disappointing. But it is what it is.”

You’re a new father, has that changed your perspective on your golf at all?

“It certainly makes you forget a bad round pretty quickly. If I have a bad round, I come home and pick this little guy up and I forget about it almost immediately.”

Your one-shot back heading into the weekend, what do you need to do to ensure you’re there or thereabouts come Sunday?

“That’s quite surprising actually, I didn’t think I’d be that close to the lead so I’m pretty happy about that. I’m just going to keep doing what I can, I don’t really look at leaderboards. I’m just going to try and put another couple of good rounds together and see what happens.”

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