Phil Tataurangi used his inside knowledge of the Hills course to lead the New Zealand charge midway through the second round at the Michael Hill New Zealand Open in Queenstown.
His four-under 68 has lifted him into a tie for sixth at 137, seven under the card and five behind leader American Robert Gates. Three New Zealanders, Josh Geary (69-69), Bradley Iles (71-67) and overnight co-leader David Smail, +1 today through nine holes, are a stroke further back.
Tataurangi says he can remember walking in the rain around the deer farm on which the course was built with owner Michael Hill and golf designer John Darby, and this has definitely given him some “inside information” on how the layout has been put together.
“I played nicely today. I had a couple of birdies early on, but the course could not be playing any easier.”
After going through the turn two under, Tataurangi had consecutive birdies at 10, 11 and 12 after sinking two putts from five metres and a tap in on 12.
He could has easily notched four more birdies after missing putts from four metres, two metres, four metres and three metres on holes 13 through 16. His only blemish was a hooked drive on 18 into deep rough which resulted in a bogey.
Tataurangi has been dogged by injury over the past five years and while he is now fighting fit, his scores have not reflected the progress he has been making.
“Over the last few years I have been chipping away at it, although I would have liked progress to have been quicker. Today is the best I have played here,” he said.