Manawatu – Wanganui amateur Tyler Hodge has carded a three under par 69 in tough conditions at the Waipu Golf Club to lead the New Zealand Age Group Championship by one shot after round one.

The 17-year-old from the Levin Golf Club, who earlier this year won the Australian Boys Amateur title in Brisbane, came home strong this afternoon to finish one stroke better than Chris Charlton of Otumoetai (70).

Hodge, a member of the Srixon Development Squad, was happy with his start in a testing wind.

“It’s pretty hard out there,” said the junior New Zealand rep.

“I hit the ball really well today. I didn’t make too many mistakes and the highlight of the day was holing out on the par 14th for eagle. That was pretty cool.”

Hodge made the turn in one under par 35. He added two birdies, two bogeys and an eagle on the homeward nine to sign for a three under 69. Managing the wind on the links course was the key to his fast start.

“I was able to keep it under the wind which set me up for a good score. The wind didn’t really touch my ball all day which was really good. I positioned myself well and it went to plan.”

He has the benefit of an early start tomorrow in round two where he hopes he will play in benign conditions.

“I will only change my game plan if the wind isn’t there tomorrow morning but otherwise I will keep playing attacking golf when I can. Three 69s – I would be happy with that and I think that would put me in a good position to win.”

Meantime, Charlton, of the Otumoetai Golf Club in the Bay of Plenty, was pleased with his first round effort that included five birdies.

“I struck the ball really well,” said Charlton.

“I played the front nine in two under. I dropped a couple easy ones on 12 and 14 but I made good birdies on 16 and 18 to pull it back. I managed to keep the ball under the wind pretty well which was the key to the round I guess.

He is looking forward to being in contention for the national title over the next two days.

“You need to make your share of birdies out there because you can easily find trouble and make bogeys. I was hitting it pretty good most of the birdies were from close range from around six feet.”

Ashburton golfer Jordan Green and Greenacres rep Ryan Chisnall both opened with rounds of one under par 71 to be in a share of third place and only two shots back. 

“I hit the ball really well and made up and down a few times, I was just lucky that my putter was on good form,” said Green who played Waipu for the first time.

“I have had a lot of experience with links golf and playing in the wind and bad conditions. It is just the greens around here are so tough you need to put it in the right places or you get punished.

“I have played a lot of New Zealand Golf events so I feel like I am experienced. Hopefully that helps me out in the next few days and I keep making good swings.”

Local Chase McKeown and Jason Yoo (Waitikiri) signed for rounds of even par 72 to be tied fifth.




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