03 Mar 2023 | Professional golf |

Wood clings to NZ Open lead

by Australian Golf Media

Chris Wood NZ Open image
Chris Wood during his second round at Millbrook today. Photo: Getty

By Tony Webeck

Queenslander Chris Wood has maintained his position atop the leaderboard amid a barrage of low scores in Round 2 of the New Zealand Open in Queenstown. Coming in hot following his course record 10-under 61 on the Remarkables Course on Thursday, Wood moved out to 15-under late into his second round on the Coronet Course at the Millbrook Resort. A bogey at the par-3 sixth and double bogey after finding the penalty area left of the par-4 eighth green dropped Wood back to 12-under by day’s end, his round of two-under 69 enough for a one-stroke buffer from Shae Wools-Cobb (64). A third Queenslander, Scott Hend, made a late charge into third at 10-under with a brilliant seven-under 64, playing partner John Lyras going two better in his round of nine-under 62 to be tied for fourth at nine-under with Kiwi amateur Kazuma Kobori (67), Korean Jaewoong Eom (66) and Japan's Terumichi Kakazu (66). The Vic PGA champion at Moonah Links in 2021, Wood has rebounded following an indifferent start to his season on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia. He had twin victories on the adidas PGA Pro-Am Series in January and earned a share of 11th at TPS Sydney at Bonnie Doon two weeks ago. Given his penchant for birdies, Wood has turned his attention to reducing the bogeys he throws into a round, a tactic he intends to carry into Saturday’s third round. “Bit disappointing to drop three shots in the last four holes but not complaining too much,” Wood said post-round. “If I can keep some bogeys off the scorecard I’m probably going to have three or four birdies a round minimum. “I hit a lot of greens yesterday and today as well so if I can hit a lot of greens, give myself opportunities I should be fine.” Wood and Wools-Cobb have been paired together a number of times already this season, providing for a comfortable final pairing on Saturday on the Coronet Course. Like Wood, Wools-Cobb has found form early in 2023. He was tied for second at TPS Murray River and tied for seventh at TPS Hunter Valley last week. Like Wood, Wools-Cobb played the Coronet Course on Friday morning and gave up shots at both six and eight. “The last four weeks has given me a lot of confidence, the way I’ve been playing,” Wools-Cobb said after his round of seven-under 64. “I’m just going to ride that into the weekend. “Key today was the hot start. I was hitting it pretty close early on and I was four-under through five; it just felt easy after that. “I didn’t really hit too many bad golf shots so it felt easy. It’s a bit of a blur really.” Starting from the 10th tee on the Remarkables Course, Hend and Lyras both began their rounds with an eagle at the par-5 opener. Hend continued his hot streak with birdies at the next three holes, Lyras making his charge on the front nine with three birdies and a second eagle in the space of six holes to get within one of Wood’s course record. “We just enjoyed each other’s company,” was Hend’s summation of their 16-under total. “It wasn’t a hassle playing with each other so that leads to, usually, better scoring. And when you’re both scoring at the rate we were, hopefully you can jump on the back of someone else.” “We both got off to a great start,” Lyras added. “I was a little slower to get going but watching him make some putts it’s really easy to feed off someone like that when they’ve got their eye in a little bit.” Sixty-eight players finished inside the cut-line of four-under with TPS Hunter Valley champion Brett Coletta, former NZ Open champs Dimi Papadatos and Matthew Griffin and WA Open champion Deyen Lawson among the big names to miss out. The final two rounds of the NZ Open will both be played on the Coronet Course.


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