Aucklands Leonard Powell has made a late charge to lead the Cobra Puma New Zealand Amateur Championship after round one.
In trying conditions at Royal Wellington Golf Club, Powell held the clubhouse lead after a run of three birdies in his final four holes this morning. He would remain in poll position as the afternoon field were unable to match his impressive three-under, 68.
It has been a long time since the 20-year-old has seen his name at the top, but he was more pleased that his parents would be able to enjoy the occasion when they look online.
"Im just happy my Mum and Dad wont have to scroll down as far to read my name this time," laughed Powell after his very consistent round of golf.
"Hitting 15 greens was the most pleasing part because I cant remember the last time that happened, so to show some consistency and make just the one bogey was awesome."
Powell will be looking to erase the memories of making last years top 32, only then be knocked out in the opening round of the match play.
"Last year I made the final stages and was kicked out in the first round of match-play which was disappointing, so I have an easy goal in mind to beat that. Hopefully last year has given me a bit more experience if I do happen to make it there again."
There is a strong group attempting to take the top qualifying medal away from Powell, with Waikatos number one, Luke Toomey joining a host of golfers at two-under par.
"I was very happy with the round as it definitely had the potential to be more demanding out there and my decision making was the most pleasing part," said Toomey.
The 23-year-old is arguably the hot favourite and is trying not to think about the end goal.
"Its so tricky to think ahead in this format of the game, so it doesnt really matter where you finish in that top 32, its what happens from there in. I will certainly be looking to finish at the top after tomorrows round though."
Toomey is the current holder of the New Zealand Stroke-play Championship and knows how special this title would be if he was to pull it off at Royal Wellington on Sunday.
"It holds a special place in my heart playing in this event. Its the countrys biggest one and I have structured my year around this and the Asia-Pacific, so hopefully I can get the desired result after a great build up."
Shaun Campbell was a surprise package today and spent the majority of his time at the top of the leaderboard after four birdies throughout the day. The big friendly giant was showing his talent and will be exciting to watch if he was to make the match-play stages.
It is a family affair for the Campbells this week, with Alanna looking to go from qualifying champion last year, to New Zealand amateur champion this year with the assistance of her mother on the bag once again this week.
At one stage both Campbells were leading each division before Alanna dropped off the pace to open the door for Canterburys Julianna Hung.
With a three-under 69 (women par 72) Hung showed class making five birdies in the threatening afternoon conditions. Even with her slight lack of distance and experience at the age of only 14, she showed skill around the greens to prove she can match it with the countrys best.
The in-form and recent Harewood Open winner Rose Zheng is just one shot back and will remain a threat throughout the week. She is joined by the experienced Chantelle Cassidy who round out an exciting leaderboard after day one.
As mentioned the course has endured some challenging conditions with rain consistent throughout the first day and although the course was set up shorter than expected due to the weather, the scoring illustrated that the new Royal Wellington layout is a worthy test of championship golf.
The Club, established in 1895, has made an immense effort towards improving the amateur game and the recent course development has been a big part of that. After their investment and passion, the club was then awarded the opportunity to host the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship which is to be played this time next year.
The New Zealand Amateur is a great dress rehearsal for one of the worlds biggest amateur events and the host club is certainly being tested this week.
With 36 players on 74 or better, there is very high chance of an exciting playoff tomorrow evening as they look to make the tough task of the final 32.
- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Golf NZ