Former New Zealand rep Chantelle Cassidy is one round away from winning her first national title.



The Putaruru golfer, who finished third in the New Zealand Stroke Play in Hastings last year behind champion Emily Perry and Lydia Ko, battled hard in the wind today to card a five over par 79 earn a one shot lead over Wellington rep Te Rongopai Clay (77) and North Harbour golfer Lita Guo (80).


Cassidy, who is on a three over par 225 total, is on the comeback from the golfing wilderness and wants to get back into contention to represent New Zealand.


She would make a statement if she could claim her first national title on a testing layout like Paraparaumu Beach.


“After a disappointing year last year I want to show that I can still play at a high level,” said Cassidy.


“I have put myself in a good position for tomorrow. It is a hard golf course and it was harder today when the wind picked up. I am proud of how I played. To score well around here you have to stay patient and keep out of trouble so far I have been able to do that.”


Cassidy feels like she is ready to step up in the absence of World No.1 amateur Ko and Perry who has since turned professional.


“I have enjoyed this course this week and I have been pretty happy with my game. It is going to be tight tomorrow but I feel like I am playing well enough to win.”


Nipping at her heels is the big-hitting Titahi Bay golfer Te Rongopai Clay. The Wellington rep won the New Zealand Age Group title in 2012 but to claim the NZ Stroke Play honours would be a big step up.


“It is a great opportunity for me and it would be mean to win here,” said Clay.


“Julianne [Alvarez] and I practice here all the time – most Saturday’s actually – I love the course and to win here would make it even more special to me.”


“I played reasonably solid today. I was happy with how I responded after hitting it in the water on nine. I have never hit in the water there and I made double. I managed to come back and to be only one shot back heading into tomorrow is really cool.”


Guo, who won the LawnMaster Classic back in February, was not at her best today with a six over par 80.


Auckland golfer Brittney Dryland had a one under par 73 to be in a share of fourth place with team-mate and NZ Amateur Champion Munchin Keh (77).


The stage is set for a dramatic finale to the New Zealand Women’s Stroke Play Championship at Paraparaumu Beach.





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