Former champion in front at half way stage of club titles
GOLF: Former champion Mat McKee is leading a field of the usual suspects at the halfway stage of the Grafton District Golf Club championships.
McKee's consistency with rounds of 71 and 72 has him ahead of defending champion Greg Harvison and teenage contender Willow Harris, both on 147 after rounds of 75 and 72 over the weekend.
Thirteen-time winner Mathew Worthing is lurking three shots further back after two rounds of 75.
Club scorer Heather Robinson said McKee was the only golfer to break par with either round with his one-under 71 on Saturday but had more of a struggle on Sunday.
"He salvaged his round yesterday with a birdie on the final hole after a couple of bogies, including one on 17, on the back nine,” Robinson said.
Harris had a round more reflective of his age, with birdies and bogies distributed evenly through his card.
"He recovered well from a bad start on Sunday when he bogied the first and double bogied the second..
"On back nine he had three birdies, on the 11th, 15th and 18th holes.”
Harvison's game was also up and down with a couple of double bogies on the 12th and the 17th blowing out his score.
Robinson said despite a couple of poor rounds by his standard, Worthing was not out of contention.
"We all know what Mathew is capable of,” she said. "He could have a blinder of a round and blow everyone out of the water.”
McKee is also wary of a big finish from Worthing.
"Mat beat me in the Herron Cup a few weeks ago,” McKee said.
"While I was parring the 9th, Wortho hit an eagle on the 18th to beat me. That's the sort of thing he can do.
"I don't know if he's in the form to pull out an eight-under round, but he could easily shoot 68 and pick up enough shots to win.
McKee said holding the lead at the halfway point in the tournament was a double-edged sword.
"It puts the pressure on you,” he said.
"I don't know if it's better to be four shots behind.
"If you're behind no-one's expecting you to win, so you can go out and see if you can pick up enough shots to win it.
"When you're in front, you're feeling the pressure the whole time.”
But McKee is happy with the way he is hitting the ball.
"The handicapper has me on about +1.2, which I'm pretty happy with,” he said.
"It's a good indication of how I'm playing. I think I only hit one hazard all weekend and I was able to play out of that one anyway.”
McKee said the state of the course was sorting out the field.
"It's dry and there's plenty of run, which is making it play long, but that's causing a lot of problems,” he said.
"The greens are firm, so it's a challenge for your short game.
”You might get to the green in two shots, but it can take another three or four shots to get it in the hole and you've got bogey or worse.”