29 Mar 2012 - Source: NZ PGA
New Zealand’s Mark Brown has the outright lead after day one of the New Zealand PGA Championship in Arrowtown.
Brown bounced back from a slow start to card an opening round six under par 66, to be one shot clear of Australian’s Tim Wood, Adam Crawford and Andrew Martin in the PGA Tour of Australasia event.
Brown was amongst the early starters in chilly conditions, but despite the challenges coming thick and fast throughout the afternoon, no player was able to eclipse his early benchmark. The morning round had been delayed by an hour and a half due to fog and the extra wait seemed to have a negative effect on Brown’s golf as he struggled to one over par through his first four holes. However, as the weather warmed up so did the 37-year-old’s golf, as he birdied 14, 16, 17 and 18, before sinking an eagle putt at the par five first to rocket up the leaderboard.
Brown says the conditions definitely played a part in his scratchy start.
“Once the jumpers came off and you started to warm up it was magnificent but early on the ball wasn’t going very far through the air so you had to judge that a little bit.”
It’s a welcome homecoming for Brown, who hasn’t played in New Zealand since 2007 or on the PGA Tour of Australasia since he won the Order of Merit in 2008.
A hectic schedule on the European Tour, where he competed in 36 events each year kept him from home. He’s now lost his status in Europe, but is giving it a positive spin.
“I’m actually looking forward to playing less, with a bit more time off to do some fitness stuff. The body’s in pretty bad shape. Obviously losing your card in Europe’s not ideal but I’ve looked at it as a positive. I can spend some time at home and get fit and do some meaningful practise.”
The reduced schedule is already paying off with no signs of rust in his game despite two months off over summer. Brown says he just felt good being out on a New Zealand course again.
“To play at home in front of your family and friends down here is just a dream and I’ve really missed it. It’s just fantastic to be home”.
The second round of the New Zealand PGA Championship is scheduled to get underway at 7:40 tomorrow morning. Australian Ed Stedman and New Zealand’s Rhys Bishop will have to complete their first rounds after fading light prevented them from finishing on day one.
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