It was a day on the dart board at the 99th ISPS Handa New Zealand Open with three players tied at the top with impeccable opening rounds of nine-under par at Millbrook Resort and The Hills.

Harry Bateman has claimed the tag of leading Kiwi in soft and calm conditions with a round of seven-under par while rookie-professional Nick Voke impressed playing alongside golf super star KJ Choi who finished two-under.

They will be chasing co-leaders leaders Daniel Nisbet (AUS), Jarin Todd (USA) and Tatsuya Kodai (JPN) who represent a variety of nationalities, but share the same class.

Bateman’s 64 was leading at the time after finishing with a back nine 29, which is a career second for the Kiwi.

“I started pretty wobbly, I hit it into the hazard on the first hole (10th) and scratched my round the rest of the nine. I hit one in the water on my final hole,” smiled Bateman after a bizarre first and last hole.

“I made an eagle on the 17th and then caught fire on that front nine and came home in 29. I holed everything on my back nine.”

“I want to keep the processes going. It is easy to get ahead of yourself in these big events so I just want to make it one step at a time.”

After a steady, yet slow start in comparison to the field, Voke finally found a spark to make three birdies in a row late in the day to sign for a round of five-under par at Millbrook.

“It was a really solid day out there today, I don’t think I missed a green, so it was one of the more casual, tap in five-unders I have ever had, which on this scene and with these players around makes me pretty thrilled,” said Voke.

“I’m one of those guys that if a see one 15-footer drop in, I think they are all going to drop. So I hit a few pretty close, then nearly hold a bunker shot which was pretty pleasing.”

After enjoying the opportunity of playing alongside one of the globes most recognisable golfers, Voke will also get the chance to spend the evening with Choi after an invitation to join him for dinner.

“I will taking these learnings going forward and I have even been invited to dinner with him this evening, so I will enjoy the opportunity for a few more questions tonight.”

Josh Geary and Gareth Paddison also made a run to the top of the leaderboard this morning after completing matching rounds of six-under par to add to the list of Kiwis in contention.

Playing at The Hills this morning, Mark Hutson finished his debut New Zealand Open appearance with a clinical finish to what looked to be a challenging round.

Playing alongside Double Olympic Champion and eight-time World Champion rower, Eric Murray, Hutson made four birdies in four holes (13-16) to fly up the leaderboard.

“I wasn’t really thinking about it too be honest, I had such a mint group to play with and Eric was so easy to get along with and I didn’t really take notice about the golf,” said the New Zealand stroke play champion.

“It was a bit scrappy on the first nine, I would make a birdie, then drop a shot. But then we made the turn and rolled in a couple of putts. The greens here are so pure so you just have to start them online.”

There is an incredible 118 players under par after the first round which means the cutline is hovering around three-under.

New Zealand Amateur champion, Daniel Hillier who is making his second appearance here in Queenstown finished at two-under par, which would normally be satisfactory in an opening round, but now finds himself needing to find some birdies if he looks to enjoy his first chance at a full four rounds.


Play will once again commence at 7:30am with large crowds expected on tomorrow with Ryan Fox (two-under) and Michael Hendry (two-under) teeing off in the afternoon.



    1 Hydes, James 147.28
    2 Kobori, Kazuma 146.00
    3 Thompson, Mako 107.58
    4 Jones, Samuel 98.70
    5 Zheng, Jimmy 96.58
    1 Chung, Darae 238.04
    2 Kobori, Momoka 142.00
    3 Xu, Fiona 98.04
    4 Son, Yeonsoo 90.74
    5 Maurice, Caitlin 84.77