show me:

Hend leads by two shots at New Zealand Open

3 minute read

Rio Olympics teammates Scott Hend and Marcus Fraser sit atop the leaderboard at the midway point of the New Zealand Open.

MARCUS FRASER. Picture: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Long-time friends and Rio Olympics teammates Scott Hend and Marcus Fraser have wound back the clock to sit atop the leaderboard halfway through the New Zealand Open.

Overnight co-leader Hend, 50, made the most of benign morning conditions at Millbrook Resort on Friday, shooting a five-under 66 to move to 12 under.

It left him two shots clear of a group of five players including the 45-year-old Fraser (66), fellow Australians Matthew Griffin (68) and Sam Brazel (67) and Kiwi duo Daniel Hillier and Josh Geary (both 65).

Hend has only one bogey on his card through the opening two rounds of the $NZ2 million ($A1.885 million) tournament, as he and Australian playing partner Kade McBride - who is tied for seventh at nine under after signing for a 67 - fed off each other's good play.

"It's not as difficult out there as it has been in years gone past because we haven't had wind," said Hend.

"You have to take advantage when you can, because you don't know what's going to happen on the weekend.

"Sunday could be a bit dodgy, so we just keep going."

Fraser stepped away from fulltime golf at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, before realising he had unfinished business.

It's been quite a battle since his return, which only added to his satisfaction at opening with back-to-back rounds of 66.

"It's been a long time for me to put one good round together, let alone two," said Fraser, who still has an exemption on the Asian Tour due to his career prize-money earnings.

"There are always some nerves, especially with the way I've struggled since I've started playing again.

"It's definitely been a battle, but you never lose your appetite for the game and for improving and trying to get better.

"I'm just trying to stay as positive as I possibly can."

Hend and Fraser will be paired together in the final group for Saturday's third round.

"We've been great mates for a long time and we played the Olympics together as well," said Fraser.

"We've got a lifelong friendship there and it's something they can never take away from us.

"We share it and we're both pretty proud about it."

Fraser led after each of the opening two rounds of the 2016 Olympic tournament before finishing tied for fifth as Justin Rose claimed gold for Britain.

Hend was tied for 39th in Rio.

The Australasian Order of Merit race was thrown wide open after pacesetter Kazuma Kobori from New Zealand endured a horror two days, carding successive rounds of one-over 72 to miss the halfway cut by six strokes.

There are more than 40 players within six shots of Hend on a packed leaderboard heading into the weekend action.

The NZ Open is co-sanctioned by the Australasian and Asian Tours.

Think. Is this a bet you really want to place?

For free and confidential support call 1800 858 858 or visit