Manawatu – Wanganui amateur Tyler Hodge and Bay of Plenty’s Chris Charlton share the lead at the New Zealand Age Group Championship after two rounds of windy conditions at the Waipu Golf Club.


Charlton, the 17-year-old from the Otumoetai Golf Club, carded a one under par 71 to set the clubhouse lead at three under par which the New Zealand rep Hodge matched shortly after with an even par 72. 

Charlton is co-leading a national golf tournament for the first time while Hodge is looking to complete a rare double and win both the Australian Age Group and New Zealand Age Group titles in the same year.

It is believed that no New Zealand golfer has won both titles in the same year. Saali Herewini came the closest when he won the 1992 Australian Junior after winning the 1991 New Zealand Junior title. Herewini is the only New Zealand player who has won both championships.

Hodge is excited at his chance of making history.

“It would be pretty cool to have both national titles and I will be doing my best to win here tomorrow,” said the 17-year-old from the Levin Golf Club.

Rhys Harold (Palmerston North) and Sanjay Modgill (New Plymouth) both fired rounds of three under par 69 in the morning while Compton Pikari (Te Awamutu) matched that number this afternoon. The trio share third place on a two under par total, only one stroke back from the leaders.

Charlton and Hodge, who have contrasting experience on the national scene, had differing views on their second round scores.

“I am pleased to back up today,” said Charlton, whose sister plays for the Black Sticks.

“I started off pretty poorly nutting it around. I missed a lot of greens and fairways but my short game was good and saved me. I was chipping it to about two feet to keep myself in it and managed to finish it off well.

Meanwhile Hodge, who opened with a three under par 69, was not pleased with his even par 72.

“It was pretty scratchy really,” said Hodge.

“I don’t feel like I did anything well today really. I just positioned my ball and stayed out of trouble but just got it done.“

Charlton, who opened with a two under par 70, made four birdies and three bogeys in his second round for a three under par total.

He admitted there’ll be some nerves tomorrow when he tees off in the final group.

“I have never been in contention for an event of this stature so it’s good fun. Making five birdies a round is my target. I managed to make four today so yeah I will keep attacking.”

He credited his turnaround in form to the hours he has been putting in on the range.

“I have been practicing really hard and it’s nice to see it paying off. I started working with Jay Carter at the start of the year and that has helped a lot. He has helped me make some huge improvements with my swing and I am starting to score well.

“I have had a few even par rounds in national events before but haven’t been able to put two or three rounds together so yeah it feels good and hopefully I can keep it going.“

Hodge, with his experience, will begin the final round as the favourite. He has taken confidence from the fact that even though he is not playing how he’d like he is still in contention.

“I never really seem to have a blowout round which is good. It sets me up well for the days where I do play well and I can go really low.

“Hitting it straight and my short game is my strength. I don’t hit it a long way by any stretch but I get it done on the greens. “




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