Akarana Golf Club played host to a golfing clinic this afternoon with eight under par being the score to beat. Local lad, Jordan Loof and Taranaki's Brad Hayward carded flawless rounds of eight under par to lead the Akarana Open on the Jennian Homes Charles Tour.
Loof, who has spent more hours than most on the practice facilities at Akarana was more than excited after being in unfamiliar territory in a major event.
"Oh it feels amazing, I'm stoked to play solid all day. I managed to hole a few putts and an eagle on 18 to finish made for a great way to top it all off," said Loof who now plays at Royal Wellington.
"I had the perfect number for my approach on 18 for a little lob wedge and landed it 10 ft past and sucked it back in."
"To do it back here on my home ground where I learnt the game made it all the more special. I have been a member here since 2008 and seeing all the local faces watching was a great feeling."
Holder of the clubhouse lead for a mere 15 minutes was Taranaki's Brad Hayward who opened his account with an eagle three on 10. There was no looking back after that as he made six more birdies on opening day.
With consistent tournament golf under his belt, he is shaping up well this weekend.
"I have been away from home about a month, playing a few pro-am's and doing enough to get by, so the swing has slowly started feeling good and let's hope it continues to do so for the next three days," said Hayward.
"I'm staying with Johnny Tynan who shot 61 two weeks ago so after my good start I wanted bragging rights over him, but couldn't quite get there in the end."
It was picture perfect with the sun blazing and the sky tower in the distance kicking off the penultimate event of the Jennian Homes Charles Tour.
Surprisingly the morning field was relatively quiet with the best score being four under. The afternoon arrived, the wind departed and then came the birdies. It was perfect scoring conditions and with a hint of moisture early in the week it was much like a dart board for the New Zealand professionals.
There was plenty of company at the top with Fraser Wilkin and Brad Shilton at seven under par, both trailing by one, yet with their experience they have to be hot favourites from here in.
Hayden Beard, Lachie McDonald , Daniel Pearce, Victor Janin, James Beale, Tyler Hodge, Matty Tiplady, Cameron Jones and Jake Meenhorst all are within range which will make for an exciting second day in at Akarana.
A name we are only too familiar with at the top of the women's leaderboard is Chantelle Cassidy who is looking for her fifth straight tournament victory. Cassidy carded a steady -four under par round, however she is not alone. Young professional Rica Tse joins her to be one shot clear at the top.
The two were paired together and went tit for tat all day after matching each other on both nines coupled with identical amounts of birdies and bogeys.
We also witnessed a hole in one today with Steven Han hitting the perfect seven iron into the difficult Akarana eighth. From 159 metres his baby draw was tracking nicely towards the pin and with a hint of bite, the pill dropped and the arms went up.
With a 7:15am start time tomorrow the dominant afternoon field will have a chance to break clear of the chasing peloton.