Thursday, January 21, 2010

Michael Curtain (66) leads NZ PGA Championship

Australian Michael Curtain grabbed the clubhouse lead at the New Zealand PGA championship late in the day after completing an opening-round, bogey-free, six-under 66.
Curtain, the reigning Western Australian PGA titleholder, collected six birdies at Clearwater in Christchurch missing only two greens in regulation and two fairways in difficult conditions.
The Victorian leads a group of three players - compatriot Neil Sarkies and New Zealand pair Matthew Holten and Grant Moorhead - by one shot.
Sarkies, 40, birdied five of the first seven holes on the course in what was one of the best rounds of his recent career while Holten was equally as impressive, sinking six birdies to lead New Zealand's hopes into the second round.
Moorhead, who teed off later in the afternoon, hit seven birdies during his round was tied for the lead after the 17th before a bogey on the 18th forced him back into second place.
New Zealander Grant Waite finished alongside defending champ Steve Alker on two under.
Waite, who has struggled with his putting during his career, made the switch from right to left-handed with the putter and it seemed to pay off early on.
He sunk a birdie on his first hole (10th) before putting together a rare round without a single three-putt.
Waite was generally happy with his form on the greens and is feeling positive about his prospects.
"That was a bonus for me (not hitting a three putt)," he said.
"I sunk a couple of nice birdie putts, my stroke was good throughout and there was only one putt that I didn't feel comfortable over."
The shock of the round came when the leader on the course, American Brian Smock, blew his lead with a disappointing eight on his final hole of the day.
At one stage Smock led by four shots, but twice he landed in the water that guards the left side of the long par-four 18th hole en route to a quadruple bogey and a round of 70.



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