It is one thing to be the favourite but another thing altogether to play like one.


Josh Geary underlined his renewed self-belief again in today’s second round of the John Jones Steel Harewood Open in Christchurch that was memorable for some of the strongest winds ever experienced at a tournament in NZ Golf history.

The 28-year-old from Mount Maunganui, who opened with a two-under par 70, shot a superb three-under par 69 in the gusting winds to claim the lead by one stroke from Omanu pro James Hamilton (71).

Ashburton professional Daniel Pearce (71) is in third place alongside Bay of Plenty professional Jared Pender (72) and Christchurch amateur Jason Yoo (73).

Levin amateur Tyler Hodge climbed 40 places when he carded the round of the day – four-under par 68 – to jump into tied fifth.

But the favourite continued to show his class.

Geary, who won the Carrus Open at the Tauranga Golf Club a month ago by eight shots, is looking to become the first player to win consecutive $40,000 Charles Tour events.

Standing in the clubhouse as the wind increased in strength Geary was right where he wanted to be at the halfway stage.

“To be finished now and see the wind picking up it feels pretty good to have the lead in the clubhouse,” said the Western Australian Open Champion.

“I hit it really good all day. I just had one blemish on the 10th which was a lost ball and I didn’t even hit a very bad shot down there to be fair. It was a pretty solid day I hit it really straight and putted good so I am happy with my game right now.”

While the three-time Charles Tour winner was happy, the rest of the field battled in the afternoon wind. The gales gusted to over 100km per hour and made life on the Harewood Golf Club near impossible.

Tournament Director Dave Mangan of New Zealand Golf deemed that the extremely high winds made the course dangerous and unplayable and play was suspended for two hours.

All of the field completed the second round, but only just, and will return to the course chasing a familiar leader in round three. The favourite is living up to the hype and feeling comfortable.

“It is really pleasing to be in the lead after two rounds because it is so tough out there,” said Geary.

“In golf you have your favourites and what not but it doesn’t mean that you are going to win you still have to get out there and do it and I have just continued my form from the last few weeks.”

The former Web.Com Tour player has surprised himself in the wind since returning home as he searches for his third title from his fifth start.

“I never used to be a very good wind player. But I have changed a few things around and I have a few new shots so I have done well in the wind the last few weeks and that has been pleasing.

“My form is great. I have just got to stick to my processes and keep focusing on each round. Tomorrow is another day and I know that there is a long way to go.”

Meanwhile Hamilton was happy enough with his one-under par 71 that saw him in contention for the first time to win on The Charles Tour.

“I am feeling really good about where I am at,” said the 24-year-old.

“I am chuffed with two under par rounds in that wind. It is just consistent golf nothing stupid and nothing flash and kind of got the job done today. I was a bit disappointed with my finish. I came home bogey, bogey par but you have to take it as it comes.”

He was looking forward to playing in the final group and testing his game against a fellow Bay of Plenty player who is in hot form.

“It is good to be up in this position you know. Josh is always up there so it is nice to be at least close to him. Usually I am miles away and not in contention.

“I am stoked really to be in contention to win my first Charles Tour title. I have won a couple of home competitions in the last couple of years but I haven’t done much away from home so it is good to be in contention this week.”

Hamilton said there was not a lot of pressure or expectation on him so he would just try to enjoy it.

“I put a bit of pressure on myself. There is a bit of pressure but there is not at the same time. There is probably more on him [as the favourite] so I will give it my best. “

One player delivered the best shot of round two before the wind picked up. Christchurch golfer Russell Fildes hit his first ever hole in one on the par three third.

He hit a six iron to the 165m front and centre pin position. The ball landed on the fringe and rolled up the green and never looked like missing. Fildes couldn’t believe it.

“I am thrilled with that,” said the 30-year-old afterwards. “It was my first one so it was a pretty cool moment. I have come close many times before.

“Standing on the tee we couldn’t really tell if the ball was in the hole or not. We knew it was close and when we couldn’t see the ball on the green we figured it must be in the hole. I wasn’t 100 percent sure until I saw it in the bottom of the cup so it was a good feeling then.

“I will definitely have a few beers in the clubhouse to celebrate.”

A total of 61 players made the weekend when the cut was made at 10-over par 154.





    1 Jones, Samuel 115.78
    2 Lee, Jang Hyun 83.56
    3 Zheng, Jimmy 73.73
    4 Ford, Jayden 66.16
    5 Bai, Joshua 66.10
    1 Chung, Darae 260.13
    2 Son, Yeonsoo 110.19
    3 Xu, Fiona 93.60
    4 Im, Amy 69.80
    5 Kang, Sumin 69.60