Callan O’Reilly ignited on the back-9 at The Hills and ended his round by setting a new course record.
Teeing off in the second round of the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open, O’Reilly was playing steady golf and willing some putts to drop for his playing partner Jake Higginbottom who sits on the cut line.
Those positive vibes transferred to his own game and O’Reilly went on to make eight birdies on the back-9 to shoot 28 coming into the clubhouse.
Signing for an 11-under 61, O’Reilly fired the lowest round of his career and claimed the course record, which was previously set by Peter Fowler in 2007 and matched by Jin Jeong in 2012, by one shot.
“I was playing with my good mate and he was not playing great on the front-9 and I was hoping he could make a few birdies. I sort of just rode what I thought he would do, and did it myself,” said O’Reilly.
“Everyone was saying the weather was going to be horrible on Friday. I thought I was going to get bad conditions but we got out there in an absolute peach of a day.
“I played good golf, gave myself opportunities and made them. It is all you can do. But that is my lowest round.”
While holding a piece of history at the golf course owned by Sir Michael Hill is a nice feather in his cap, it more importantly moved O’Reilly into a share of the lead at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open.
This round is more evidence of the hard work O’Reilly has been putting in with his new coach, PGA Professional Gary Barter.
“I have been playing good. I did some work on Tuesday trying to fix the driver a little bit but it was outstanding today. Hopefully now I keep it all going,” added O’Reilly who finished 6th at the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth which is tri-sanctioned by the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, European Tour and Asian Tour.
“I played really well in Perth and wrapped up my card. So the financial pressure that comes with being out on Tour I am not feeling. I can go out and have fun.
“It is a pretty stacked leaderboard with some good golfers and good guys. Hopefully I have a good group and go out and have a laugh and play some good golf.”
Playing at Millbrook Resort, Daniel Nisbet, who was tied for the overnight lead, fired 5-under 66 to be 14-under the card and continues to hold a share of the lead now alongside Callan O’Reilly.
“Today was solid again. I had a bogey early which kind of halted the momentum a little bit, but I still struck the ball really well. I’d like to hole a few more putts tomorrow though,” said Nisbet.
“It’s good to be in an area like this, and to be playing good golf is a bit of a bonus. The score is going to be low, so hopefully I can post another good number tomorrow and stay in the hunt.”
The afternoon field is now on course.
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