Recent Akarana Open champion, Gareth Paddison has continued his form produced a near perfect round of eight under par to lead the Autex Muriwai Open by mammoth five shots.

In typical Muriwai Links Golf Club conditions, there was severe winds and rain which makes his total of nine birdies even more impressive.

After two pars to open his account, Paddison decided to turn it on with five consecutive birdies from holes 12 to 16 and has earnt the right to enjoy this phenomenal round.

"It was absolutely fantastic, I almost played flawless golf," said Paddison.


"I just kept hitting close all day long with so many good shots and never had to hole a putt longer than about six feet."

It was clear he enjoyed the challenge of the wind that he grew up playing in.

"Im from Wellington, so any bit of wind suits this Wellingtonian just fine," he grinned.

"The hard work I have done with my coach Ian Godleman has made a huge difference to my game and the control I had over my ball today was probably the best I have ever had. I know its probably wrong of me to say, but I left a couple out there as well."

Paddison has found something new in his game and rightly so enjoying his golf as a result.

"Yeah Im really enjoying the game at the moment. Its been a long time coming, so its nice to tee it up and know where the ball is going, so I cant complain," smiled Paddison.

There is some work to be done from the rest of the field with only 13 players under par today (just two in the afternoon).

Campbell Rawson, Changi Gi Lee and Kieran Muir all produced what would normally be great rounds on opening day at the Muriwai Open, but they are already five shots in the rear at three under and have a large mountain to climb if they are to upset Paddison.

Mark Brown looked to be the man to catch our leader with a front nine of four-under before the difficult back nine cost him two shots to end the day at two-under par.

In the womens field, it was professional Jenna Hunter who finished on top after a solid round of even par to hold a slim one shot lead over Akarana Open champion, Hanee Song.

Hunter got off to an amazing start in the torrid conditions with four birdies in six holes, before Muriwai slowly started to answer back to finish on even terms with the 28-year-old.

"It was very tough out there, especially the back nine. I started very strong after being four-under through nine and just tried to hold on from there," said Hunter.

She made it clear today that she enjoys the links style of golf.

"Yeah I like links courses better, I think it suits my game a lot more and there were clear improvements off the tee today, which I struggled with at Akarana."

Hunter recently won the Anita Boon Pro-Am at the North Shore Golf Club proving she can convert from a good start. It showed that her experience is superior this week as she remained calm after her solid first round.

"Its all about trying to make par and playing smart when conditions are like this. Things like aiming for the centre of the green, not seeking pins and staying patient are important."

However, the finish line is a long way away with the extremely exciting chasing pack not far behind. Akarana Open champion Hanee Song is just one shot back as she looks to make it two in a row, whilst a further shot behind is the dangerous pair of Alanna Campbell and Chantelle Cassidy.

The first ball is to be struck at 0715hrs with conditions expected to be slightly easier for the second round.

- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Golf NZ