Former Taranaki local Troy Ropiha is focused on joining an exclusive club on the Charles Tour.



The 30-year-old Taupo professional, who called Ngamotu home for many years as an amateur, carded a four under par 68 today to jump to an 11 under par total and the outright lead at the halfway stage of the Taranaki Energy Open.


Ropiha leads by one shot from New Plymouth amateur Brad Hayward (69) and Auckland professional Fraser Wilkin (67) in squally conditions.


Waipukurau pro Pieter Zwart (69) and Waikato pro Mark Purser (65) are three shots back from Ropiha in a share of fourth place while name players Grant Moorhead (67) and Mark Brown (70) are on a six under par total in a four-way share of seventh place. Overnight leader Daniel Pearce faded to sixth with a one over par 73 in round two. 


Ropiha, who by his own admission has “been totally average in 2013”, is happy to be chasing his third title on the Charles Tour.


He wants to put his name alongside fellow three-time winners Doug Holloway (Wairakei Open 2006 - 2008) and Michael Hendry (Tauranga Open, Muriwai Open and Taranaki Open) and Mark Purser (Tauranga Open, Shirley Open and Titirangi Open).


“It would be quite cool as not too many players have won three titles on the Charles Tour,” said Ropiha, who won at his old home course in 2008 and 2010. “I am hoping I can get over the line on this one and hopefully win another one as well.”


The north easterly wind grew in strength today but the course was still friendly enough. Ropiha was content with his 68 that he finished in the afternoon dusk with a tap-in birdie on the par 5 18th


“I grinded a score out and at the end of the day that is what golf is all about. It was still a really good day for Taranaki. It was probably a one club wind but that is nothing around here.”


Ropiha has shown, with his low penetrating ball flight, that the tougher it gets at Ngamotu the better he plays.


“I don’t mind the tougher conditions. They limit the number of players who can score well around a course like this. The better golfers generally come to the top when it is tough.”


Fellow Taranaki stalwart Hayward also welcomed the worse weather.


“It was a bit windier today but that doesn’t worry me,” said the 21-year-old. “I am comfortable being in the lead and just want to keep going. You dream of these sorts of opportunities: to win an event like this on your home track.

It would be great to win here and raise the flag for this club.”


Like Ropiha, Hayward is hoping his local knowledge will pay off.


“I don’t need to read the greens too much and I know what club to hit off the tee. I will think of the next couple of days as just like a club haggle.


“I know Grant quite well. He has helped me a lot throughout the years and Mark has a lot of credibility in the game with the career he has had but I will think of them as just another couple of guys to beat.”


Rookie professional Wilkin carded a second successive 67 to climb three places and into contention to win for the second time on the Charles Tour.


The rookie Auckland pro, who last year won the Muriwai Open as an amateur, won the amateur title at Ngamotu in 2012. He feels like the course suits his eye.


“I love playing courses that are by the ocean,” said the 24-year-old from Royal Auckland.


“The key to my round was putting again. I holed around four or five putts from 15 – 20 feet which are putts that don’t usually drop. It was another up and down round but I am happy to post another 67.


“My goal for this week is to be in contention heading into the final nine holes and I am tracking well so far.”


Hamilton professional Purser surprised even himself with a seven under par 65 to be the day’s biggest mover – climbing 22 places into a share of fourth.


“I came here with very low expectations to be honest,” said the former rep.


“I have hardly been playing at all but today was a lot of fun. To shoot seven under with my preparation is pretty funny and I am in a good position. I am going to go out there tomorrow with the same mindset – keep my expectations low and have fun. We’ll see what happens.”


The cut was made at a seven over par total of 151 for the men and an 18 over par total of 162 for the women. 


Te Awamutu amateur Compton Pikari will not play the weekend as he was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard in round one.





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