Seven months ago Australian golfer Harrison Savage was told he would never walk again.
Yesterday he shot a six-under 66 to claim the first round lead in qualifying for the New Zealand Amateur Championship at Mt Maunganui.
He leads Australian national squad member Ryan McCarthy by one shot with New Zealand stroke play champion Vaughan McCall, Auckland rep Sam An and Western Australian Brady Watt all two back on four-under.
But the talking point of the round was the comeback of Savage who played magnificent golf in the afternoon wind, with a five-under 31 on the back nine sealing a fast start.
It was a satisfying round for the 1.98m-tall Aussie, who has endured a gruelling road back to his best after suffering a freak injury last year.
"I was celebrating my nephew's birth and I had one too many beers and it didn't end too well," said the 20-year-old from Huntingdale.
"I snapped my leg and dislocated my knee which left me out for seven months. I was told I would never walk again so it is great to be back.
"This just shows that the work that you put in is all worth it in the end."
Savage, who lived in Wellington for a few years growing up, was happy to be back in New Zealand and has reinvigorated title hopes.
McCarthy hasn't kicked on with his golf in recent years as he has been hindered by injury.
McCall wants to be the first player to win the stroke play and match play in the same year since Victorian Brad Hughes achieved the double in 1988.
An, who also shot a four-under 68, was pleased to be back at a happy hunting ground after he claimed the Grant Clements title at the Mount this year.
Wellington's Julianne Alvarez leads the women's field after carding a one-over 73 in round one.
She holds a one-shot lead over fellow New Zealand rep Sarah Bradley (74) with Australian rep Brittney Dryland back in third place.
The 36-hole final will be contested on Sunday.