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New Zealander Ben Campbell bursts clear in Fiji

Campbell moves four clear after second round 66 (file) (Photo: Bruce Young )
New Zealander Ben Campbell continued on from where he left off late yesterday adding a second round of 66 to his opening 67 at the Fiji International at Natadola Bay to be at 11 under par and the leader by four at the halfway mark.

Queensland’s Andrew Dodt is alone in second position at the tri-sanctioned event while this year’s New Zealand Open runner-up Terry Pilkadaris from Victoria and West Australian Jarryd Felton are one further back.

Campbell played in the early half of the draw on day two and took advantage of the significantly improved conditions from yesterday, his only mistake coming at the final hole of his round which the 26-year-old bogeyed.

“I think it was one of the first times I've ever played it in this kind of conditions,” said the leader. “So the game plan actually changed a little bit, you were able to go at a few flags. The wind was actually ‑‑ I've never really played it, it was in the total opposite direction.  

“There was a couple holes hitting 2‑iron instead of hitting driver and a few things like that, and vice versa. Yeah, adapted really well today, which I think was the key.”

Campbell won the NZ PGA Championship in Palmerston North in February and spoke of his improved mental approach so far in 2018.

“Like last year at New Zealand Open as well, I had a good lead and things like that. So you just learn from those, I think. Yeah, like it doesn't really bother me too much anymore. I think, you know, you end up feeling a bit more comfortable being there, so hopefully I'll feel like that tomorrow.”

Dodt is a well credentialed player with wins on the European, Asian and Australasian Tours and, despite a recent poor run of results, the 2016 Australian PGA Championship runner-up said he feels comfortable in the typically testing Fiji conditions.  

"I've always said I'm a good wind player. I mean, you've still got to do it.

"The last six months haven't been that great ‑‑ I haven't been able to put four rounds together. I've put rounds together here and there, so today was a step in the right direction.”

“I feel like the tee shots and second shots are most of the shots I've got a good eye for, and the greens roll lovely. So, all in all, what a great background, great setting, so it's hard not to like Fiji.”

The large group tied for 5th includes joint first round leader Nick Cullen, former winner Steve Jeffress and promising New Zealand rookie Nick Voke.

Ernie Els is the most credentialed player in the field and today added a second round of 70 to be at 2 under and nine shots from Campbell’s lead and in 20th position.

With the improved conditions, Vijay Singh recovered from his opening round of 76 with an even par 72 to make the cut on the number at 4 over.

KIERAN PRATT - PUTTING WARM -UP

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