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Simon Hawkes' transformation continues at NZPGA

(Photo: PGA Tour of Australasia)
A month ago Tasmanian golfer Simon Hawkes was almost unheralded and unheard of in the golfing world, ranked 1928 in the world ranking and having hardly even made a cut in his professional career.

Wind the clock forward and Hawkes not only has a Tier One victory on the Australasian Tour (Victorian Open) he has moved inside the world top 500 and now leads the New Zealand PGA Championship at the halfway mark.

To say the least it has been a remarkable turnaround for the 29 year old Royal Hobart Golf Club member who last year played four events on the Canadian (McKenzie Tour) without earning a cheque and missed three cuts in events on the PGA Tour of Australasia.

Hawkes is nothing if not persistent, however, and managed to earn status for the 2018 PGA Tour of Australasia by finishing 12th at the Final Stage of Qualifying late last year. Then came the career changing week when he defeated New South Welshman Harrison Endycott to win $117,000 at The Vic Open and earn status on the Australasian Tour for three years.

Buoyed by what was a remarkable week then, Hawkes has established a winning position once again by taking a one-shot lead into the weekend in Palmerston North and now with the belief he can beat a field of this standing he gets another opportunity so soon after that breakthrough win.

Hawkes added a second round of 64 to his opening 65 and at 13 under par leads by one over New Zealander and first round leader Ben Campbell who will be keen for redemption after losing a playoff to Jarryd Felton for this title twelve months ago.      

“I woke up this morning, looked outside and saw there was no wind so I knew that guys would be running up the leader board after us,” said Hawkes.

“For us in the afternoon, it was a little less windy than we had yesterday morning so it did make the course feel a little bit easier. I just tried to do the same thing I did yesterday and I just happened to go one better.

“I'm really comfortable on the greens here. They're almost identical to my home club.”

Hawkes played with Campbell over the opening two days and they will get another chance to trade blows tomorrow when they are paired together for the 3rd round.  

Five players are tied in 3rd position at 9 under par namely Victorian Deyen Lawson, Queenslander Jack Munro, New Zealander David Smail, NSW’s Jordan Zunic and Canberra’s Matthew Millar, the winner of this event three years ago.

Five players including Hawkes recorded rounds of 64 (the best of the day) along with the defending champion Felton and one of New Zealand’s leading players and former PGA Tour player, Tim Wilkinson, who recovered from a horror round of 76 yesterday with a score 12 shots better than his opening effort.

The leading world ranked player in the field Michael Hendry is at 4 under and 9 behind heading into the weekend.

The cut fell at 2 under with 58 players making it through to the weekend.

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