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Deja vu for Munn at Muriwai, Ko breaks course record

Published: 9:35PM Thursday May 03, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

  • Joshua Munn (Source: Photosport)
    Joshua Munn - Source: Photosport

Manawatu amateur Joshua Munn had a case of deja vu today at the Muriwai Golf Club as he got off to a perfect start to the Muriwai Open.

The 21-year-old, who last year shot a course record nine under par 63 (with only 21 putts) in round one, and carried onto win his first Charles Tour title, was at it again with a seven under par 65 in fine but blustery conditions to earn a five shot lead.

Also opening in style was the World No.1 Lydia Ko who broke her own course record at Muriwai with a five under par 67 to establish a six shot lead over New Zealand team-mate Emily Perry.

But the talking point was the defending champion Munn, who by his own admission "hasn't done much" since his win last year at the West Auckland links, is making a late play for selection in the NZ Eisenhower team.

Munn, who teed off on the 10th, got off to a red-hot start when he made birdie on the par 3 11th, eagle on the 12th and then three consecutive birdies at 14, 15 and 16 to get to six under through seven holes.

The magic dried up, as the notorious Sou-Westerly wind picked up, and he made 10 pars until he made a great birdie putt on the ninth hole to sign for a 65. He leads fellow amateur Sam An (Titirangi) who carded a four under 68.

"I tried to copy what I did last year," said the-always-smiling Munn, who works in his Dad's Pizza Parlour in Fielding.

"I actually got off to a better start than last year but couldn't quite back it up on our back nine, the front nine.

"But it was playing pretty tough when the wind got up. There were a few five irons from 130m out sort of thing so it wasn't easy. It was good I enjoyed it."

In a share of third place were Grant Moorhead, the joint runner-up from 2011, exciting rookie professional Ryan Fox and Wellington professional Peter Spearman-Burn.

Playing alongside Munn was the tournament favourite and 2010 Muriwai Open champion Michael Hendry who was disappointed to card an even par 72 but had nothing but praise for his playing partner.

"It was awesome," said the 32-year-old North Harbour pro. "He could have birdied every single hole on the front nine we played [the back nine]. He was very solid. He shaped the ball the way he needed to, played very solid and he putted fantastic. So he capitalized when he needed to."

Hendry said it was fun playing alongside another champion of the event but added he has a bit of catching up to do if he is going to claim his fourth Charles Tour title.

"I think he is a much better chance of being the champion again than I am at this stage," he laughed.

"But it's good to see a guy play as well as he did. You don't often see maturity like that from a guy his age. He shaped the ball well and worked his way around the golf course and putted brilliantly

"I am not sure how he is going in terms of Eisenhower selection but after watching him today I would have him in my team."

Munn rates himself currently off the pace for the New Zealand team for the Worlds but is going to fight hard for a chance at selection. He admitted that it was hard to not think about breaking his course record that he set in 2011 with his scintillating start and is focused on not getting ahead of himself.

"I tried to not think about it because you get all wound up in the round but I was going for that, I'm always going for the course record.

"I am not looking that far ahead. I had a couple of bad shots out there so I am going to hit the range now to work on that. I am trying not to think about the rest of the week, I am just sticking to my processes and see what happens.

"I love it around here. I don't know what it is, it must be the beach, I don't know it is a great course and I love the greens."

The NZ PGA Pro-Am champion Hendry still rated his chances even after his slow start.

"There is heaps of golf to go and the scoring hasn't been too good apart from Josh's round so I will be there or thereabouts."

An, who made his New Zealand debut in 2011, was pleasantly surprised at a course he hasn't played much.

"I was pretty consistent," said the 18-year-old, who made eight birdies and four bogeys.

"I missed two short putts but I holed a few as well. I was pretty happy with my ball-striking.The wind makes this course tricky so you have to adjust and play the right shots.

"I was feeling pretty average coming into this week but after I dropped a couple of putts I relaxed and played well. Hopefully I can minimize the bogeys tomorrow and it'd be a pretty good round."

Also looking to minimize the bogeys is local legend Moorhead, who mixed six birdies and three bogeys. It could have been so much better for the man still searching for his maiden title on the Charles Tour.

"I really played some good golf today and feel a bit disappointed with my final score," said the New Plymouth professional.

"I took three from the edge on 17 and three putted from the back of 18. It's a bit like that out there. You let your guard down for a moment and you can get yourself in a bit of strife. All in all I am happy.

"The golf course plays a lot differently in this wind compared to the Nor-Easterly we have had in previous years here. It would mean a lot for me to win a Charles Tour event. I have been working hard on my game. It is not quite perfect but it's getting there."

Fox, who finished runner-up at the Taranaki Energy Open, was pleased with his strong surge home into the gusting wind.

"It was a bit of a grind," said the 24-year-old Fox.

"There were plenty of tough holes into the wind and I managed to hang around all day and make a couple of birdies on 17 and 18 to get in with a good score.

"I am hoping that we get some nice conditions like they did today because there is definitely a score out there. The greens are good and with no wind there is definitely a number out there.

"I am really confident this year and this is a course I have done reasonably well at and after playing well at Taranaki it is nice to come here and have a chance."

His Dad Grant, who has been busy this year with his new role as All Black selector, caddied for him the first time him in New Zealand in 2012.

"He enjoyed it today. It was good to have him out there. He helps out with the mental side of things and he kept me patient through the middle of the round which led to a good finish."

Superstar teenager Ko upstaged her playing partner Fox and the rest of the women's field to lead by six.

Ko, who won the title last year by three shots from Auckland professional Phillis Meti, was at her accurate best in the wind as she made three birdies on the front nine and then backed it up with two more on the homeward side to break her course record by two shots.

"I felt a bit nervous at the start because things weren't going exactly as I planned," said the 15-year-old Ko.

"My second shot on the second hole - I don't know how that went on the green but I made my first birdie there and it settled me down. I birdied all the other par fives.

"it is nice to be back playing an event in NZ, I haven't played too many this year apart from the NZ Open and the NZ Stroke Play so it was good to be back and I had a bit of confidence from the Queen Sirikit Cup.

"Getting a course record is pretty special and to do it at a course like Muriwai is cool. It was tough out there today and I am really happy.

"There are not many tournaments in North Harbour and it's nice to be at home rather than a motel."

Perry, the 2010 Muriwai Open champion, was happy with her start which had a few highlights after a disappointing run at the Queen Sirikit Cup.

"I was a bit shaky the first few holes but I chipped in for eagle on the 12th and then another chip in on the par 3 3rd," said the 21-year-old from the Lochiel Golf Club.

"I had another birdie on the sixth and then finished with a bogey. It was a bit up and down but I know the game is there. It's nice to come back to a place where I have won before and the greens are really pure so I am looking forward to a good week."