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Up and down Nitties still on top in PGA

ON TOP: James Nitties shares a four-way lead entering the third round of the New Zealand PGA. Picture: Getty ImagesJAMES Nitties was left tolamentwhat could have been despitesharing a four-way lead entering the third round of the New Zealand PGA Championships at theRemuera Golf Club in Auckland.
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The Charlestown professional followed his opening round 65 with a 68 on Friday to be at 11-under alongside Josh Geary (68, 65), Scott Arnold (68, 65) and Brett Rankin (66,67).

“I shot four-under par but it felt like even par,” Nitties said. “The par fives are playing really short andthere are a few birdies out there.”

Starting on the 10thhole,Nitties made the most of the par fives to pick up shots at the 16thand 18thholes andturn in 33.He opened hisback nine with the first of four birdies, but bogeys at the 3rdand 9thproved costly.

Nitties’frustration was compounded by the superb form of playing partner Geary, whose seven-under featured six birdies in eight holes on theirfront nine.

“Playing with Josh, he had seven putts for the first nine holes so he was holing everything and not so much for anyone else,”Nitties said.

Geary could not have been happier with his short game.

“I holed three bombs from 30 odd feet and a chip in too,” he said. “It was one of those days where the hole looked as big as a bucket and they kept going in.”

Aaron Townsend is three strokes back in a tie for 10that eight under. He backed up his opening67 with a 69 on Saturday in a round that was spoiled bya double bogey at the par-four sixth.

Jake Higginbottom is in a tie for 41stat three under after shooting even par on Friday.

Callan O’Reilly (72, 70) and Leigh McKechnie (73, 69) missed the three-under cut by a stroke.Jamie Hook (73, 75) finished well back at four over.

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