Dougherty takes control

England’s Nick Dougherty stormed into the lead in the second round of the New Zealand Open in Auckland.

England’s Nick Dougherty stormed into the lead in the second round of the New Zealand Open in Auckland.

Backing up a sound opening round of two-under, the 24-year-old fired five birdies in a near-perfect display on his way to carding a five-under 66.

Dougherty’s scintillating performance in benign conditions at the Gulf Harbour Country Club gave him a one-shot lead over first day front-runner Scott Strange.

After his late charge to take the clubhouse lead on four under yesterday, the Western Australian remains well-set in second place after carding two birdies through 11 holes.

Dougherty conceded there was still room for improvement in his game.

“I’ve got a little bit of work to do on my swing but all in all I am pretty pleased,” he said.

“I’ve enjoyed it and it’s been good.”

Europeans Andrew Raitt and Peter Lawrie, meanwhile, are among a field of six players tied for third on four-under.

After a level-par round during yesterday’s torrential weather, Raitt made the most of the improved conditions to card a blemish-free 67 for a four-under total.

Ireland’s Lawrie also turned around his mediocre start with a blistering display of five birdies to finish at five-under for the day and four-under for the tournament.

Other players lurking near the top of the leaderboard include Australians Greg Chalmers and Peter Senior on four under and England’s James Heath, on three under.

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