New Zealanders are dominating world golf at the moment and the positive contagion has spread to the Vic Open at 13th Beach, with Nick Voke soaring on the Bellarine Peninsula.
Aucklander Voke, 29, shot a 4-under 68 with no bogeys on the Creek course to jump up to 9-under overall and a one-shot lead at the halfway mark of the men’s tournament as he chases his first Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia title.
Another Kiwi – Christchurch’s Kazuma Kobori who made the cut today by a shot at 1-under – has won the past two tournaments on Tour, the first to go back-to-back since 2013. Countryman Kerry Mountcastle won the Gippsland Super 6 in November and Ben Campbell won the Hong Kong Open on the Asian Tour late last year.
Voke said Kobori’s sensational performance – and wins by the likes of Lydia Ko and Steve Alker in America – were driving the other Kiwis forward.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I think we’re not doing justice by saying ‘two in a row’.
“I think Kazuma’s last six months have been unbelievable, winning Eisenhower (the world amateur), the Western Amateur. That was unbelievable.
“It’s nice to see a guy kick on like that. Any success for New Zealanders on the world stage, Steve Alker, Lydia Ko… unbelievable. We’re very proud of that.”
Voke came to 13th Beach gutted by just missing out on his Asian Tour card at the recent Qualifying School in Thailand.
“It was a long flight to Melbourne from Thailand,” he said.
“I was on Korn Ferry four years, Asian Tour last year, this is the first year without a main card somewhere, but there are plenty of opportunities out there; plenty of avenues, so just keep on getting better and see what happens,” he said.
He is 45th on the Australasian Order of Merit, but a win at 13th Beach this week would vault him into a position to challenge for a top-three position, which presents a playing card for next season’s DP World Tour.
“The brilliant thing is there are plenty of opportunities that come from this tour,” he said.
“Even beyond the top three, if you finish top 10 you get starts in Europe, Asia, all over the show.
“It’s one of those things, if you play good golf, it takes care of a lot of things.”
The wind was up at 13th Beach this morning but the crowds were out and the scoring was still low, with New South Welshman Chris Fan roaring around in an 8-under 64 to move -7 overall.