Parry turns back the clock at NZ Open

Two Australians and a New Zealander head the leader-board at the completion of round two of the BMW New Zealand Open Championship at Clearwater in Christchurch.

The 2002 champion, Craig Parry, joint first round leader, Brad Kennedy, and one of New Zealand's most talented young players, Josh Geary, sit at 5 under and hold a narrow one shot lead after a day where scoring improved considerably in calmer playing conditions to those on day one.

Morning leader, Jake Higginbottom and Leigh McKechnie of New South Wales and New Zealand's Doug Holloway are just one shot further back.

The strong blustery winds that were so much a feature of day one were today almost non-existent for most of those who played in the morning half of the field and only really intensified for the latter half of the afternoon field.

Only 13 players would break par on day one but today nearly three times that number produced rounds in the red. It was a significant turnaround but essentially what that has done is that it has congested the leader-board and with only six shots now separating the leading 32 players then this event is still anybody's race.

Parry staged a fast finish to his round with birdies at his last three holes, three of the more demanding on the golf course, and turned an ordinary round into something quite special. He holed a 15 foot putt at the last to take a share of the lead.

Parry has not played a lot in recent times spending several months recovering from skin cancer surgery on his nose and a lack of real desire to chase tours on which he could possibly get a start.

Parry is however a highly credentialed golfer who has led the Open Championship and Masters late in those events at various stages of his career and is a previous Australian Open and New Zealand Open Champion in addition to multiples wins in Europe, Japan, the USA and Australia. Now that he has found a bit of form it is no real surprise he is contending.

"I actually played well in the opening the first two days - tee to green, said the internationally successful Australian. The only hole that has given me any grief is the 9th hole where I have hit two poor shots but other than that I have played very well."

Parry's caddy this week is long time friend and teaching professional at his golf club at Concord in Sydney, Grant Kenny. "Grant has worked with me for a long time and I go up there and he normally gives me hell about my swing."

Kenny noticed that Parry's s hip was riding too high at the top of the backswing and they solved that by working in the practice bunker at the practice fairway at Clearwater.
It is quite an improvement on recent form for Parry.

"It is a turnaround," he added. "The other day I had an 82 but they are also a brand new set of golf clubs that I have. I used them for the first time last week and actually felt as though I played alright but did not score any good so my wife said for me to go and hit some balls on the range and they continued to feel alright and that is the reason I stuck with those clubs."

The wind was not as strong today but Parry made mention of the difficult flag positions. "The flag places were very tough. Unless you got under the hole, even if you hit it to six feet all day long, you could still be having putts that broke from six inches outside the hole.

"I am just happy to be playing nicely. It is nice to go out and score well and I guess the only advantage I have over a lot of the other guys is that I have won a New Zealand Open and the most of the others have not (laughing).

"That I have not played that much this year means also that my expectations are not as great as others and I am just happy to be playing well. I have always loved coming to play here but to have another chance of winning another New Zealand Open is just great."

Kennedy added a second round of 71 to his opening 68 and at one stage had the lead on his own at 6 under but a bogey at his final hole leaves him in joint possession of the lead.

Kennedy has been in fine form in 2011 and if he was to go on and win this week then few would be surprised. He is after all the leading world ranked player in the field and while that is not necessarily and endorsement of his capacity to win this event he is more than capable of winning as he did at the West Australian Open in 2010 and so nearly did on one of two occasions in Japan this year.

Josh Geary has just returned from yet another season on the Nationwide Tour where he battled to maintain fitness and form. He finished 74th on the Nationwide Tour money list which gives his only conditional status in 2012 but when he attended Stage Two at the PGA Tour School he was forced to withdraw through injury to his hand.

"I was doing ok after the first round and was going ok in round two but jarred my wrist and was forced to withdraw but It is ok now," said the man from Bay of Plenty.

Geary has played well over this golf course previously having finished runner-up to Steve Alker at the New Zealand PGA Championship in 2009. Funnily enough it was not a golf course that instantly appealed to him.

"The first few times I played it I wasn't a huge fan of it," said Geary. "I like the course but it wasn't one of my favourites but I have started to play well here and am beginning to like it more and more."

Higginbottom played well early in the day and secured a share of the lead before the afternoon players even teed off.

McKechnie recorded five birdies and four bogeys in his round of 71 and is well placed just off the pace and Holloway disappointingly slipped out of the lead when he bogeyed the last.

Holloway has played the Sunshine Tour in Queensland over the past few years with some success but unlike previous years when he has spent much of this time of the year trying to qualify for other tours internationally he has focused his attention on the Australasian Tour in the hope that he can improve his status here and hopefully get greater access to the OneAsia Tour.

Recent winner in Western Australia Rohan Blizard, and South Australian left hander, Nick Cullen, are at 3 under and just two from the lead.

The cut fell at 6 over with 72 players making the weekend field.


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Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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