When Jarryd Felton, Nick Cullen and Andrew Dodt hit the scorers hut on Thursday they led the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways field by two.
By the time the Australian trio stepped on the first tee 24 hours later, they were five shots back of Kiwi Ben Campbell.
As if to prove Thursday’s 67 was no fluke, Campbell went one better on Friday with a second round 6-under 66 that catapulted him to 11-under for the week.
Campbell’s display in Thursday afternoon’s brutal winds earned him a slice of the first round lead but the 26-year-old didn’t seem keen on sharing, opening up a handy buffer as the afternoon wave took to the course.
While the breeze was far friendlier than during his first round, it was the direction that caught Campbell off-guard – if only briefly.
“I think it was one of the first times I’ve ever played it in these kind of conditions. So the game plan actually changed a little bit,” Campbell told the media.
“I’ve never really played it like that, it was in the total opposite direction. There was a couple holes hitting 2‑iron instead of hitting driver and a few things like that, and vice versa.”
Having grown up in windy Wellington, Campbell wasn’t fazed.
The ultra-consistent Kiwi didn’t take long to get going on Friday morning, rolling in the first of his seven birdies from the fringe on the par-3 2nd.
By the 17th, Campbell had climbed to 12-under and was one birdie away from equalling Natadola Bay’s course record.
But a closing bogey – his first of the day and just his third through 36 holes – gave the rest of the field some hope of reeling him in by the halfway mark of the tournament.
“I just chipped and putted. When I miss the green, I always seem to get up and down, which keeps the momentum going, so I think that’s a big key,” said Campbell.
“These greens are so good this week. I think I struggled a little bit up in Asia with the grain, getting used to chipping and putting on the grain.
“So it’s great this week, there’s none of that. I just feel a bit more comfortable.”
Fellow New Zealanders Nick Voke (68) and Harry Bateman (69) thrust themselves into the top five on the standings, with China’s Ashun Wu also reaching 5-under for the week with a second up 69 of his own.
Local hero and tournament host Vijay Singh will face a nervous wait this afternoon, his round of even-par 72 leaving him at 4-over through 36 holes and on the edge of missing the weekend’s action.
After starting on the 10th, an eagle at the par-5 17th had Singh back to 1-over for the tournament.
But three bogeys in his final 10 holes will have the Fijian praying for equally-testing winds off the Pacific Ocean this afternoon.
“The wind kind of changed direction. I’ve never played this wind, so it was kind of totally different, it was like a new golf course,” Singh said after signing his card.
“Some of the holes are playing really different. The 8th hole yesterday was just a comfortable 6‑iron. Today a lot of guys are going to be hitting hybrids.
“I’m happy with the way I played, very disappointed with the little putt I missed on the last hole, but hopefully 4-over’s going to be good enough.”
Defending champion Jason Norris dropped six shots in a disastrous six-hole stretch on his way back to the clubhouse, the lowlight a triple-bogey 7 on the downhill 5th that saw him slip to 4-over and in danger of cutting his title defence short.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s Siddikur Rahman didn’t take long to add to today’s highlight reel, kick starting his second round with a hole-in-one at the par-3 2nd from 156 metres with his 7-iron.