The Hills were alive with birdies early this morning as Australians Scott Barr and Deyen Lawson fired their way into the early lead at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open.

In his first visit to Queenstown, Barr, who is based in Singapore, was busy admiring the views whilst letting his putter do the talking.

Barr was pleased to have fired 7-under 65, the hard work done during the practice rounds paying dividends.

"I putted well, it's nice to play greens that are in such great condition. I usually think I am an okay putter but you get on greens that roll true and you have a really good day," said Barr.


"I worked really hard yesterday on my putting, I wasn't expecting the 7-under but it was nice to see the ball go in.

"You can let your mind drift off when you're walking down the fairway, which is sometimes what you need to do to play well.

"It's stunning, there is no question. It's my first time here, everyone raves about it and it sure is amazing."

However, he knows tomorrow will be a different story when he tees it up at Millbrook Resort, traditionally the harder course to score on.

"The Hills was set up for scoring, it wasn't playing hard, the pins were in very accessible positions," added Barr.

"I am expecting a harder challenge. Millbrook, you need to drive it very well. I am expecting over the course of the week it will toughen up, the greens seem hard and fast.

"I am just going to treat tomorrow as a new day, we are very early in the tournament."

Victorian Deyen Lawson matched Barr's opening round, continuing his love affair with The Hills.

The laid back Australian put his performance down to a re-dedication to the game and more focused practice.

"It's such a good spot, I just went out and had a bit of fun and the ball went in the hole less than I thought," said Lawson, who held a share of the lead after two rounds last year.

"I really enjoy my golf, where ever I am I like to have some fun, but obviously here it is just incredible, when I'm waiting I just look around.

"I have been working pretty hard on my game. A bit more practice, not being as lazy. I get a little blaise about things, so I'm having more purpose when I am practicing.

Flying the flag for New Zealand was rookie pro Luke Toomey; playing in just his second pro tournament the 23-year-old fired 6-under 66 at The Hills to be T3 with Japan's Yoshitaka Takeya who played at Millbrook Resort.

"It's a special place as it is, Queenstown, but to be playing the Open here and open up with a number like that is very rewarding," said Toomey.

"It's one of the most clinical rounds I've ever played, to be honest. Tee to green is basically flawless, and even today there was some missed opportunities. There were some bonus putts here and there, so the round got what it deserved."

Rounding out the top-five on 5-under the card are Adam Burdett (VIC), James Nitties (NSW), Jordan Zunic (NSW), Damien Jordan (QLD), David Klein (GER) and Jim Cusdin (NZ).