Scott Arnold has shot the round of the day, 6-under 66, in the second round of the SP PNG Open to hold a narrow lead at the halfway mark of the tournament.
It’s Arnold’s second round of 66 in a row at Royal Port Moresby Golf Club and he now sits at the top of the leaderboard on 12-under the card.
He said the encore performance was similar to his opening round.
“It was the same again as yesterday really, I started off really good on the front-9 again,” said Arnold who made the turn at 5-under par following an eagle on the 9th hole.
“I missed a short putt on the first for a birdie but I drove it really well and got really close to some of the par-4s, chipped it up pretty close and made some easy birdies.
“I hit a really good drive down the 9th and hit a lob wedge to about six feet and made eagle there so that was a sort of jump-start.”
Arnold said his momentum stuttered slightly as he got off to a shaky start on the back-9.
“I made a couple of bad swings at the start of the back-9 and was just steady really. I wasn’t hitting it close enough like I was on the front-9 so I was happy to get away with shooting 1-under on the back.”
Following his first round, the New South Welshman said he planned to play aggressively off the tee and sees no reason to change that tact heading in to the third round.
“They moved a few tees forward today and I did hit irons off a couple of holes but I think I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing,” added Arnold.
“I’ll stick to the game plan, play it out, go through my process and try not to worry about the result, at the end of the day if I do that it should come.”
Local Papua New Guinea amateur Brian Taikiri held on to outright second position following his round of 2-under 70 and is now 11-under the card.
He was able to bounce back after beginning his round with two bogeys in a row.
“I feel pretty good, I fought back after my start of two bogeys on the first two holes,” said Taikiri.
“Having that fighting spirit, I always know I can come back on the front-9.”
Taikiri said his knowledge of his home track, Royal Port Moresby Golf Club, came in to play as he targeted the front-9 to claw back some ground.
“The front-9 is the easiest of the two and today the wind can support you whereas on the back you’re going against the wind.
“Having that local knowledge helped a bit, I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Following his second round of 5-under 67, Tim Stewart sits in a tie for third at 9-under the card.
It’s a strong start to his debut in the SP PNG Open.
“I got off to a bit of a slow start early. I had about a 10 foot par on the first and just kind of coasted along and then holed about a 30 footer for birdie on seven and then eagled eight and just missed eagle on nine,” said Stewart.
“It was just kind of a crazy round that turned into something. I birdied 11 and 12 and it could have been really low today, I had a couple of slip ups coming in.
“I knew I was playing well and had some good chances. I started to think about it a little bit, but I bounced back and had a birdie at 17 after a couple of mistakes so I'm really pleased.”
After three bogeys on the back-9, Alex Edge caught fire on the front and came home with five birdies and one bogey to finish 1-under par and shares third with Stewart at 9-under the card.
Dale Brandt-Richards and Brody Martin round out the top-5, both at 7-under the card.
The SP PNG Golf Open will be played from 26-29 April at Royal Port Moresby Golf Club in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea with the field vying for a prize purse of AU$145,000.
The winner will receive Official World Golf Ranking Points and become fully exempt on to the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia for the remainder of this season plus a further season.
The cut was made at 3-over the card with 55 professionals and three amateurs making the weekend rounds.
The third round of the SP PNG Open will tee off at 9:20am with Scott Arnold, Brian Taikiri and Tim Stewart beginning at 11:00am.
For round three tee times, visit pga.org.au.
For round two scores visit pga.org.au.
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