Australian Matt Griffin and Japan's Hideto Tanihara looked set to lead into the weekend until Rookie Tour Pro Deyen Lawson stormed home to tie them after two rounds at the BMW ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open.
Playing at The Hills today, Griffin reeled off two eagles, four birdies and just one bogey to post 7-under 65 in the morning to be 8-under the card.
Meanwhile over at Millbrook Resort, also in the morning, Hideto Tanihara, an 11 time winner on the Japan Golf Tour, fired 5-under the card to join Griffin on top of the leaderboard.
With the afternoon field failing to ignite and no challengers moving into contention it looked like it would be Griffin and Tanihara leading into the weekend.
But Victorian Deyen Lawson had other ideas, charging home with three birdies on his closing three holes to fire 7-under 65 and join the top of the table.
Lawson, who completed his PGA Traineeship last year, isn't over-awed on the big stage, using the beauty of Queenstown to distract him from what's at stake.
Sitting two shots behind the leading trio is New Zealand's great hope, Steven Alker. It's been 13 years since a Kiwi has won their National Open but Alker isn't feeling any pressure. He fired 5-under 67 playing The Hills this morning.
On 5-under the card after two rounds are Australians Matthew Guyatt, Aron Price, Matthew Millar, James Nitties and Japan's Shunsuke Sonoda.
Rounding out the top-10 on 4-under the card are Rory Bourke (AUS), I J Jang (KOR), Dongwoo Kang (KOR), Peter Smith (NZL) and Callan O'Reilly.
With the BMW ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open played in a pro-am format Deyen Lawson and his amateur partner Anton Booy currently lead by one on 18-under the card.
The second round cut at the BMW ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open was made at even par with 61 Professionals making the weekend rounds.
The lead group of Tanihara and Griffin will be on course at The Hills tomorrow at approximately 12.50pm.
For all round 2 scores please visit pga.org.au.
The round 3 tee times will be made available at pga.org.au.
Matt Griffin, 70, 65, 8-under, T1
"There are some tough holes but there are plenty of birdie chances. If you can play the tough holes well then it gives you a chance to shoot a good score."
"It's been a while; I have been floating around the top-10 but I haven't been quite there at the finish. Hopefully I won't be too far away going into tomorrow, if not leading, and give myself a good chance over the weekend. When I can get myself into contention I usually play well."
"There is a really good field of Japanese players this week; they are all world class players, so there is no surprise to see a couple of them at the top of the leaderboard. They always play well on the weekends so I will have to play well to beat him."
Hideto Tanihara, 69, 66, 8-under, T1
"Today I had some good shots and some poor shots but I was able to recover at the end, resulting in a rather good round."
"I wasn't really confident at any point but I took each hole as it came and was careful on each."
"It's such a beautiful place I've spent some time looking at the lovely scenery."
On the pro-am format: "That's a new experience for me; I had to work out how to deal with that on a concentration and emotional level and the other thing was to just enjoy it."
Deyen Lawson, 70, 65, 8-under, T1
"I finished quite well, I was patient early and I found something out there so it was good to get a good finish."
"Obviously it's really new to me; I'm just starting out on Tour after finishing my Traineeship."
"I'm looking forward to two more rounds over the next couple of days, even just for the view, it's incredible."
"My whole mindset is different now. Obviously in a Traineeship you're still playing the same kind of golf courses and you're mindset is different with who's there. It should be the same, just you and the golf course. You shouldn't worry about who is playing, just keep going, be patient, try my best and see what I can do."
"I've played with quite a good few players; I've been playing with Nathan Green over the last couple of days as he's a PGA Tour winner."
Steve Alker, 70, 67, 6-under, 3rd
"It was freezing this morning so it took a couple of holes to get going but once I hit 13 and 14, the stretch through there, I started playing really nicely. I made a few more putts today; I think that's the difference."
"It's been three years. I love coming back here to Queenstown and playing The Hills. The courses are great and the format is great too. It's a nice mix up from the normal four days playing with Pros."
"I just came home to enjoy myself, I don't put much pressure on myself, I'm sure there is pressure from golf fans thinking I am going to do well. But I just try to do well."
"A country's Open is kind of everything, that's what I come home for to try and win."
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