Hamilton leads North Island Stroke Play
Hamilton, New Zealand (March 16, 2012) -- Bay of Plenty golfer Craig Hamilton is the leader at the halfway stage of the North Island Stroke Play after a two under par 70 in fine conditions in round two at the Lochiel Golf Club.

The Omanu golfer, who shared the overnight lead with Sean Masters (Kataia) and Irishman Ciaran Molloy (Remuera), was the best of the trio on day two as he made five birdies and two bogeys to open a two shot lead over Molloy and Fraser Wilkin who shot a course record 63.

Hamilton, who won the New Zealand Foursomes title this year with good mate Sam Davis, is searching for his first individual national title.

“I am trying not to think about being the leader, I am just trying to have some fun,” said the 19-year-old.

“The course is playing as good as I have ever seen it. My game plan has been pretty simple all week just trying to hit fairways and then make the putts. The greens are playing pure so if you hit it where you are aiming then it will go in. it is a lot of good fun out there and I am looking forward to the weekend.”

His game plan for the weekend was simple: “Get it going and don’t stop attacking. If you hit the fairways and leave it in the right areas of the greens then there are plenty of birdie chances.”

Hamilton had heard about Wilkin’s course record nine under par 63 and said “that a number is there if you put it all together.”

The Royal Auckland Golfer, who teed off on hole 10, came back into form in the most spectacular way making eight birdies and an eagle only to bogey his last hole the ninth.

“I came out with a much better attitude and it definitely paid off. I managed to play everything shot by shot and it’s much easier when it’s like that,” said the Srixon Academy member.

“It was pretty good golf. I had a lot of control with my short irons and I putted really well as well.

“I don’t feel like I hit it a bad putt today. I rolled every putt where I wanted to and I got up and down when I needed to and scored well.”

Wilkin, who hasn’t contented many tournaments so far in 2012, said he feels like he has been on the cusp of playing well but it hasn’t all clicked until today. One of the reasons for the turnaround has been working with coach and New Zealand Golf local legend Marcus Wheelhouse.

Wheelhouse has a fine record at amateur level in New Zealand. In 1993 and 1994 he won the New Zealand Stroke Play title and in 1994 he was also the North Island Stroke Play champion.

Wilkin enjoys working with the respected professional.

“It has sorted out a few niggles in my game particularly with my putting. I feel a lot more confident putting now.

“We haven’t touched any mental stuff yet but only on technique and we’ve talked about where I want to go in my golf and what I need to do to be at my best. I have a few things to work on but I am pretty excited about it.”

Six players share fourth place on a three under par total, three shots back from the leader Hamilton.

Lochiel local Emily Perry continued to share the lead in the women’s division after a two under par 70 in round two saw her atop with Lita Guo (Remuera) who shot the low round of the tournament in the women’s field with a three under 69.

Perry is happy to be the joint leader at the halfway stage and is looking to win her first title at her home club over the next two rounds.

“I had a slow start but then I eagled 13 and made a few more birdies, I putted a lot better. I am definitely happy where I am in the tournament. You can’t win it after two rounds but you can definitely lose it so I am just trying to stay patient and take each round as it comes.”

Auckland team-mates Celyn Khoo and Mun Chin Keh share third place on even par.

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