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Ponting misses cut at NZ Open, just

By AAP .
28 February 2014 08:08PM EST

RICKY Ponting missed the cut as fellow Australian Adam Blyth produced a birdie blitz to seize a share of the halfway lead at the New Zealand Open golf championship in Queenstown.

While Blyth sizzled with nine birdies, the former Australian cricket captain and partner Daniel Popovic missed the cut from the pro-am side of the event despite shooting 71 at The Hills course in their second round on Friday.

Even Ponting's second birdie of the round at the last was unable to save the pair, who could only manage a tie for 49th place, two shots shy of the cut line.

Having started a chilly Friday four shots off the pace, Blyth joined Aucklander Richard Lee atop the leaderboard among the pros with a seven-under-par 65 at Millbrook.

His last birdie on the 18th late in the afternoon vaulted Blyth to nine-under for the tournament and level with Lee, who shot a 67.

Tied for third, two shots back, are Waikato's Mathew Perry and Australian Dimitrios Papadatos, who both carded 69.

Lee, who was at the other course used for the first two rounds, The Hills, was blemish-free, picking up five birdies.

Playing in the morning, he was happy he finished before a band of rain hit and the wind picked up.

His strategy for the weekend would be simple - look for more of the same.

"If I shoot two rounds in the 60s, I'll be rapt and then see how that holds up," Lee said.

"It's all weather dependent."

No New Zealander has won the Open since Mahal Pearce achieved the feat in 2003 and Lee would naturally be delighted to be the one to break the drought.

He was a contender when the tournament was last held in late 2012, but problems with the water at Clearwater in Christchurch meant he had to settle for fifth.

The last two rounds of the revamped Open, which has a pro-am format, will be at The Hills and some prominent names won't be there.

American drawcard Rocco Mediate was sitting on the cut mark of one-over when he double-bogeyed the 18th for a 75 to finish three-over.

Also out are Australian Jake Higginbottom, who relinquishes the title he won as a 19-year-old amateur, and four other former champions - Pearce and compatriot Greg Turner, and Australians Craig Parry and Peter Fowler.

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