CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand(AP) American rookie Michael Letzig shot a four-under-par 68 Friday to take the lead at the New Zealand championship after a rain-interupted second round.
Letzig, with a 7-under 137, held a two-stroke lead over New Zealand’s Phil Tataurangi (68) among players in the clubhouse after completing their first two rounds.
Several players, including overnight leader Ryan Howison of the United States, were still on the course when rain forced play to be stopped at 6:30 p.m. local time.
Letzig shot a 69 in the first round Thursday, playing among the higher-scoring groups later in the day, but took advantage of an early start Friday to post the day’s best round.
“I feel like we’ve had the tough conditions with the wind yesterday afternoon and then the rain this morning, but I’ll take it. I’m happy with what I’ve got,” Letzig said.
Letzig held the clubhouse lead but had been joined at 7-under by Australian veteran Peter Senior, Howison and fellow American Chez Reavie.
Howison, who led by one shot overnight, was even par through 10 holes Friday. Senior, who started the day one off Howison’s lead, was 1-under through 13 holes and Reavie was 2-under through 13.
Sal Spallone of the United States was one stroke behind that group, 3-under par for the day through 13 holes and 6-under for the tournament.
Tataurangi and Australian James Nitties completed their second rounds and were a shot back at 5-under par, along with Matthew Jones of Australia who was 1-under through six holes.
Tataurangi is in contention for a title which has recently eluded New Zealand players.
“We only get two opportunities to come home and the NZ Open and NZ PGA are as big as they come on my schedule,” Tataurangi said.
“I’ve got some momentum going now, which is key for me at the moment.”
Players who have yet to complete their second rounds will do so Saturday morning before the scheduled third round of the $600,000 tournament, which is co-sanctioned by the Australasian PGA and the U.S. Nationwide Tour.
The cut is expected to be 1-over par.