Olympic medal winner Nick Willis is in eighth place after the first day of the New Zealand Speed Golf Open Championships in Rotorua.

Willis decided to play the unusual event for "fun".

"It's a great way to enjoy the links but not to take five hours out of your day," the middle distance running great joked. "Surprisingly, you end up hitting the ball better a lot of the time because you take your mind out of the game.

"I struggled at the start because I was rushing it. But once you get into a rhythm, it's fine."

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The top 12 competitors after yesterday's competition are set to play off for the championship today.

The score racked up by competitors is compared with the time it takes to complete a round to decide final scores. Competitors are only allowed to maximum of seven clubs.

Willis said he used five with "the trusty wedge" doing most of the work.

Rotorua's Steven Holloway was the leader after day one when he shot a 73 and ran 43 minutes and 44 seconds for his round.

Willis shot an 88 and ran a 41.08.

"I would normally shoot an 83 or 84 over a normal round so I'm pretty happy with that."
Former Eisenhower trophy rep Phil Aicken has qualified in 10th.