Michael Hendry and Cameron Jones have established a three-shot lead at the midway point of the Taranaki Open after a blustery day on the New Plymouth links.

The brutal south-easterly winds hit New Plymouth Golf Club and gave players plenty to think about as they tried to move up the leaderboard, but only seven were able to shoot a sub-par round, including the two leaders.

Both Hendry and Jones carded two-under 70s, the best scores of the day. Only Harry Bateman and Tyler Hodge were able to match and sit in equal third and 12th respectively.

Hendry teed off the ninth this morning and got off to a solid start, playing all the tough holes on the back nine in even par after a birdie at 11 and a bogey at 12. He slipped to one-over after a bogey on the first, but finished impressively, making birdies at three, five, and seven.

He says he was proud of how he handled the brutal conditions, which saw the wind gust between 35 to 50 kilometres an hour.

“It was just so tricky out there. I can think back to one bad shot the whole day. Other than that, I felt like I executed every other shot the way that I wanted to; it was just whether or not I calculated the wind correctly or the elevation change; it was just really tough out there.

“To shoot a couple under without too much stress was great.”

The wind seemed to trip the majority of the field up at points during the second round, but Hendry made sure he was playing smart and to his strengths. The 43-year-old ball striker plotted his way around the Ngamotu track and feels in control of his ball heading into the weekend and the Japanese Tour next week.

“A lot of the guys probably work to a two or three-club wind equation, whereas I tend to work on visualising the trajectory I want to hit to get the ball to go where I want it to go, and that dictates the club I hit. Then I’ll hit it harder or softer depending on what I’m trying to achieve with the trajectory.

“Playing out here isn’t going to hurt my preparation for next week. Anytime you get those competitive juices flowing is always good. Coming off a couple of weeks of practice, sure, you can spend hours and hours on the range and putting green and tidying anything up technically, but if you’re not playing a game, it can take a while to get back into that playing mode. Playing tournament golf is the best preparation for playing tournaments, in my opinion.

“I just need to be careful the conditions don’t force me to make any technical changes to make sure the ball isn’t being affected by the wind. The good thing about this place is it’s not an out-and-back golf course, you don’t circle around, so you get all wind directions.

“It’s great because we don’t end up in a situation where we’re fighting one wind direction, which is a problem when you’re moving into a week that won’t be as windy.”

Although he’s playing in a competitive environment, his focus is on the finish of his Japanese Tour season, where he sits 57th on the money list.

Hendry says his goal is to feel the tournament nerves that come with being in contention and get his game to a point where he feels he can win over the coming weeks.

“I’m just going to try and play the way I want to play. There will be less emphasis on the result and more on what I’m trying to achieve, given that I want to make sure next week is a successful one. I’m getting into the pointy end of the Japanese Tour season, and I need to make sure I’m playing well.

“Obviously, if I get close to being in the right spot come Sunday, I’ll think about it a bit more then. But the next 36-holes will be about more about the process.”

The man he’s tied at the top with is his fellow North Harbour Professional, Cameron Jones.

Like Hendry, he’s shot opening rounds of 67 and 70 to sit atop the leaderboard.

He also says it was a tough day out there, but is happy with his work so far this week.

“Today was a grind for sure. I definitely didn’t have my best stuff out there, but I’m extremely happy to post two under. A few things went my way, a few things didn’t. All in all, I’m pretty happy to be in the mix; it’s exactly where I want to be heading into the weekend.”

Jones enjoys playing in the wind as he’s able to be more creative with his golf ball. He says the conditions played into his hands a little more than most and is stoked to be up the top of the leaderboard.

“I’m happy to be up there in the lead.

“At the Muriwai Open, I’ve been the first-round leader a couple of times and struggled in rounds two and three, so to have a good one today means a lot.

“I’m excited to go head-to-head with some of our best tour professionals; I wouldn’t consider myself at their level, but I know I can compete when I’m playing well. I’m excited for the weekend.”

The overnight leader Josh Geary shot a couple over to sit four-under-par, a shot ahead of his Jennian Homes Trophy rival, Sam Jones.