Two of New Zealand's leading amateurs have set the early pace after round one of the Carrus Tauranga Open played at Tauranga Golf Club today.
Manor Park's Daniel Hillier continued his recent good form with a superb six-under 64. He birdied five holes on the back nine and three on the front nine with just two bogeys putting a slight dampener on his card.
Hillier, who has previously won on the Charles Tour, leads by one stroke from Masterton's Kerry Mountcastle, who had seven birdies and bogeys on the 15th and 17th in his round of 65.
Leading the professionals is Mount Maunganui's Hayden Beard, who was one of the players to cash in on the benign conditions in the morning.
Beard's four-under 66 included five birdies and an eagle on the par-5 13th hole around the racecourse but he dropped a shot on 2 and double bogeyed 10.
He has been in good form at the last two Charles Tour events and says sticking to his game plan worked well.
"I was just trying to hit it inside 15 feet as often as possible and then roll some putts in. The course was probably playing slightly easier than it usually does with no wind out there but the guys in the afternoon might have found it more difficult," Beard said.
"Conditions were perfect so you could take it to the flags. You are always trying to score as well as you can but to go out there and do it early is always good fun."
Charles Tour leader Daniel Pearce is well placed at three-under alongside Tauranga amateur William Howard. Tauranga-based pro Jim Cusdin is two-under with Te Puke's Jared Pender one-under along with Omanu amateurs James Golding and Shaun Campbell.
Defending champion Mark Brown could not get anything going on his round. He had to settle for a par 70 to be back in 26th equal position.
Playing on his home course, Brown started with a birdie on the first hole but then had a calamitous triple bogey seven on the par-four second. He recovered well to birdie holes 3, 6, 8 and 13 but dropped shots on 5 and 16.
No sane golf mind would write off the winner of four of the last five Carrus Tauranga Opens but Brown will need to go low to get back in the hunt.
In the women's field, Auckland's Brittney Dryland shot a superb six-under 66 to lead by one from Caryn Khoo (67), with Miree Jung (68), Darae Chung (70) and Carmen Lim (71) all under par.
The weather report is for fine weather and light westerlies at the Tauranga course today. Free entry for spectators.