Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Banchory's James Byrne had a disappointing opening round of six-over-par 78 in the New Zealand Open at Clearwater Golf Club, Christchurch.
The rookie professional, starting at the 10th, had bogeys at the short 11th, 13th and long 14th before running up a double bogey 6 at the 15th. Another bogey followed at the 17th before he claimed his first birdie of the round at the 18th.
On his inward half Byrne birdied the long second but bogeyed the seventh and ninth.
He is the only European  player in the field.



Little known Waikato professional Jim Cusdin defied the strengthening afternoon winds to claim a share of the lead in the first round at the BMW New Zealand Open in Christchurch. He joined Queensland professional Brad Kennedy as joint round one leaders after firing four-under par 68s at the Clearwater Golf Club.
The pair leads Australian Leigh McKechnie and Kiwi Doug Holloway (69) by one shot with 2003 New Zealand Open champion Mahal Pearce (70) only one shot further back. He shares fifth place with 2002 champion Craig Parry, and fellow Australian professional Nicholas Cullen. 
After the morning field had made the most of the calmer conditions, Cusdin defied the challenging nor-easterly winds with a superb display, reaching the lead at one stage on five-under after just 10 putts in his first nine holes. 
After a double bogey and bogey he dropped to two-under, but rallied with the maturity beyond his 26 years to make two late birdies. The recent Tauranga Open winner on the Charles Tour was delighted with his play today.
“My front nine was awesome today in that wind,” said Cusdin. “I felt like I couldn’t do anything wrong. I was putting really well and hitting really good shots and going on with it. I hit it clean and putted well so yeah I am pretty happy.” 
Cusdin credited his recent success on the Charles Tour as the reason he was able to bounce back from his back nine mistakes. “I said to Scotty [Wightman], my caddie, that whatever happens this week just stay cool you never know what is going to happen, especially after I three putted too, after only 10 putts on the front nine … I just tried to stay patient get myself into position and I managed to make a couple coming home.” 
He plans to move to Melbourne in 2012 with his girlfriend for a full year on the Australasian Tour and is hoping for better status with a good performance this week. 
He feels better equipped to handle the pressure of contending in a big tournament like the BMW NZ Open after growing with experience.
“I suppose you get used to it. If I had’ve done this two years ago and I looked at the scoreboard then I would have gone the other way but it’s like anything you just have to get used to it. I like to know where I am.” Kennedy, who plies his grade in Japan and won the Western Australian Open in 2010, made the most of the benign early morning conditions with three birdies in his opening five holes from the 10th tee. 
He made further birdies on holes two, three and four to get to five under for the tournament but dropped a shot coming home at the 8th to sign for an impressive four under 68. “The key to my round was just staying patient,” said the 37-year-old. “I got it going early on when it was really calm and then the wind picked up on my final few holes and it was a much tougher. I have played here a few times and I enjoy playing in the wind. “Coming from Queensland and playing a lot in Asia I am used to these conditions and I am happy with my start. Kennedy enjoys playing on the Australasian Tour and is looking forward to the Anzac battle over the weekend. 
“I really enjoy coming back to New Zealand, I have some good mates that live here on the course who I am staying with and its good catching up with them for a few beers and a few glasses of Pinot. I love coming back to New Zealand to play and it’s nice to be in contention.” 
Holloway is the next best Kiwi after the 28-year-old fired a three-under 69 to be tied third. As the nor-easterly winds started to blow it reduced the players finishing in red figures on Red and Black Day, where players were encouraged to wear Canterbury colours in support of the city. Starting off the first, Holloway made a birdie on the fourth and mixed three birdies with one dropped shot coming home.
“I played really, really good up until the final hole where I got very lucky on the last when I hit a bit of a cut into the wind and stayed in-bounds by about a foot. My provisional was in the bunker and so best case scenario was that I would have made seven so I was very lucky to stay in-bounds,” said Holloway.
“Looking at the weather so far it seems to be quite a big advantage playing this morning. I got off to a pretty good start. “It plays a lot harder around here in the wind. If the wind stays like this or blows harder, then even-par will be a good score. I will try not to make any mistakes. That will be the key.” 
A strong player in winds, Holloway has been buoyed by excellent recent form. “I have a tendency of playing well in the wind. My expectations have been pretty high. So coming into this I did like my chance of coming close. It is early days so we will see what unfolds.” 
Also in the mix is Parry who managed a two under par 70 to be two shots back from fellow Queenslander and Cusdin. 
“I played really well today,” said the Australian veteran. “The wind was a lot less than yesterday but it was still difficult to get it close. I played well so happy with two under.” 
Tournament draw card Michael Campbell got off to a fast start in the morning when he was two under after five holes but faded to card a five over 77.  





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