FORMER PGA Tour winner Jason Gore, one of the drawcards at the Michael Hill New Zealand Open tournament at The Hills course near Queenstown, was in the embarrassing position of trailing the field after nine holes.
Teeing off the 10th in the afternoon, Gore bogeyed the 12th and 13th holes and after a double-bogey at the 16th he turned in four-over par 40 on a day where scoring matched the hot weather and found himself last of the 156-strong field.
However, Gore has shown before he can run hot with a career-best round of 59 five years ago and he got on a roll starting the front nine. He reeled off six successive birdies before closing with three pars for a front nine of 30, 10 shots better than his first half.
Told he was the field’s tailender at one point, the burly American said with a grin: ”Nice”.
“I like my second nine better. It was a tale of beauty and the beast or the beast and the beauty whichever way you want to put it.”
Gore was unable to stop hitting left on the outward half but found the solution before the second nine. “I probably had the ball a bit too far away, I decided to stand over it and started to hit it pretty good and I made a few putts including a 40-foot bomb.’’
After a birdie at the short par-5 first, Gore said he stood over a 20-foot putt at the second and went `wow, this feels really good’.
He found the middle of the hole and backed up with four more birdies, three from close range and the one monster putt.
From four-over after nine he finished two-under and pushed into the top half of the field and in contention for the title on Sunday.