A hole-in-one has helped Victorian Andrew Martin secure a narrow one-shot lead heading into the third round of the Tailor-made Building Services NT PGA Championship.
Martin is 10-under at Palmerston Golf Course – one shot clear of Ryan Chisnall, Aaron Pike and Brett Rankin – thanks to his ace on the 167-metre par-3 fourth hole.
“The hole-in-one was perfect clubbing. It was the perfect distance for my six iron. It started a little left and rolled in nicely,” Martin said.
“The front nine wasn’t great to me yesterday, but today, with a little less wind, it was easier.
“I’ve been hitting my irons well and when I got to the fourth (hole) and got the perfect distance with my six iron and hit a good shot in. It landed nicely and rolled on in.
“It was great to kickstart the round. It got a little bit boring from then on, but managed to get a couple of birdies on the back nine.”
Martin replicated yesterday’s 5-under 66 with a consistent bogey-free performance.
Rankin had the opportunity to join Martin atop the leaderboard, but narrowly missed his putt on the 18th. He finished 3-under 68.
Local hero Pike recovered strongly, book-ending birdies following consecutive bogeys on the 3rd and 4th to finish 4-under 67.
“I played nicely. I had a couple of mistakes early on with a couple of bogeys. I had a couple of putts burn the lip, but I think everyone will be saying that kind of stuff,” Pike said.
“It would mean a lot (to win). Winning any time is going to be amazing. I don’t want to put more pressure on myself, just because it’s at home.
“It’s a pretty special place to me. My family lives on the golf course, we all support this golf club, I grew up here. If anything, I don’t think it adds more pressure to me. It makes things easier, I know the place better than anyone, so I can use it to my advantage.”
A 6-under 65 has New Zealander Ryan Chisnall in second spot, with consecutive birdies on the final two holes cementing the Kiwi’s chances of taking the NT title in his first attempt.
“I’ve been going ok. A 65 today was very pleasing. It’s been a tough year, so it’s good to be in Australia in the heat playing consistent golf. Hopefully that continues,” Chisnall said.
Veteran Peter Wilson, who recently won the Samoa Open, was best afield with 7-under 64.
Wilson hit three consecutive birdies on his final three holes to give himself a chance of the NT Championship. He's T5 at 8-under.
In addition to the winner’s share of the $150,000 prize purse, the champion will receive Official World Golf Ranking Points and be fully exempt onto the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia until the end of the 2020 season.
The second round cut was made at even-par with 55 professionals and two amateurs progressing to the final two rounds.
Round three of the Tailor-made Building Services NT PGA Championship at Palmerston Golf Club tees off at 9am local time tomorrow.
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