CHARLES TOUR: JOHN JONES STEEL HAREWOOD OPEN: MCDONALD CLAIMS THE LEAD IN CHRISTCHURCH

25/10/2014

Manawatu amateur Lachie McDonald was inspired by the Turbo’s Championship winning rugby team and his team-mate Josh Munn at the Asia-Pacific Amateur in Melbourne to deliver something special.

 

The 23-year-old from the Marton Golf Club produced a six-under par 66 in fine conditions today in Christchurch to claim the lead in the $40,000 John Jones Steel Harewood Open on the Charles Tour.

 

McDonald, whose 66 was a joint course record for a few moments before Auckland pro Fraser Wilkin shot an eight-under 64, will take a one shot lead into the third round from Ashburton professional Daniel Pearce (70).

The member of the winning Manawatu-Wanganui Toro Interprovincial team said he got the putter going early and made the most of the benign conditions.

“I had a 10 hole stretch with seven birdies and an eagle so that was pretty helpful,” he said with a smile.

During that run of holes McDonald, who began on the 10th tee, also made a double bogey on 17 and a bogey on the third. But it didn’t halt his progress as he kept pouring in the birdies.

McDonald said he was pretty confident heading into the second round after a carding an impressive one-over par 73 in the wind. The key was just staying patient.

“It was a lot easier without the wind with your approach shots and the putting was a lot easier as well without having to factor in the wind at all.”

McDonald has a lot of team golf for Manawatu-Wanganui coming up with SBS, a quadrangular and ultimately the defence of the Toro title at Hamilton in December.

He is still deciding whether he will head to Q School for the NZ PGA at the start of 2015 but before then he wants to make the most of an opportunity to win on the Charles Tour.

McDonald said he will take the confidence of his putting, sticking to his routines and not thinking too far ahead into the third round as he looks to follow in Munn’s footsteps as a Harewood champion.

“I just want to play the golf than I know I am capable of. Stay relaxed and enjoy it.”

Round one leader Peace also wants to play the golf he is capable of. The big hitting pro shot his second successive two-under par 70 to be in contention.

“I was a bit frustrated today,” said the 26-year-old. “I played really nicely yesterday in the wind but I hit a few loose shots today and ground it out well. I made a few soft bogeys but I am still happy with the score.”

Pearce feels comfortable at Harewood and feels like his game is in good shape as he looks to win for the first time on the Charles Tour.

“I have just got to go out there and keep doing what I am doing. I am hitting the ball nicely and I am starting to putt a bit better which is good. I am feeling good about my chances.”

Meanwhile Wilkin was delighted with one of his best rounds of 2014.

“It has been a pretty rough year,” said the 26-year-old. “A lot missed cuts by a shot and that sort of stuff, or I have played well and haven’t made the most out of it. It is a great to shoot a low number today.”

The two-time winner on the Charles Tour has struggled this year with leg and hip injuries and has been working hard on honing his short game. It finally paid off.

“It was quite a lot of fun. I saw a lot of the golf course on the front nine. I didn’t hit it very well but my putter was red hot so it was good to keep grinding through those nine holes and hang in there for a good score.”

He played the first two rounds with Rod Latham, a former Black Caps cricketer and the manager at Harewood, and said it was a good experience.

“I said to Rod on the way around that it is good to see him playing in this event. He obviously puts a lot of time and effort into this club and he is extremely proud of it. He loves playing with the pros.”

Wilkin is excited by his turnaround in form and is looking forward to challenging for his third title on the Charles Tour.

“It is just a matter of staying relaxed and playing some good golf on the weekend and try to make a good cheque.”

 

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