A total of 118 players broke par on an astonishing day of low scoring in Queenstown. Sharing the first-round lead were Australian Daniel Nisbet, Japan’s Tatsuya Kodai and American Jarin Todd who each carded nine-under par in benign conditions. Nisbet and Kodai shot their 63s at The Hills, while Todd went one stroke better, firing a 62 at the par-71 Millbrook Resort.
That Todd was even in Queenstown is a story in itself. The 31-year-old met tournament director Michael Glading in Indonesia last year when he was handing out flyers to Asian Tour players on a recruitment drive. Todd, ranked No.717 in the world, liked the look of Queenstown on the promotional brochure and made the trip Down Under, shooting a blemish-free round on day one.
Steve Williams returned to Queenstown to carry the bag of New Zealand’s No.1-ranked golfer Ryan Fox.
Former English cricketer Sir Ian Botham and former Japanese baseball player Masumi Kuwata were two of the high-profile amateurs who took part in the pro-am.
The New Zealand Open wouldn’t be what it is without the legion of volunteers that assist with the tournament’s production.
Two of New Zealand’s highest-profile golfers failed to make the weekend after missing the halfway cut of seven-under par. Ryan Fox fell one stroke shy after three-putting his last hole while defending champion Michael Hendry was a dejected figure after missing by three.
Back-to-back 64s catapulted journeyman Terry Pilkadaris into the halfway lead. The 44-year-old, chasing his first tournament victory in 13 years, chipped in twice to get to 15-under par. A stroke behind were fellow Australians Daniel Nisbet and Callan O’Reilly, who shot a career-best 11-under 61 at The Hills to set a new course record.
Unlike ex-Australia skipper Ricky Ponting, forrmer New Zealand cricket captain Stephen Fleming found it tough playing to a 7-handicap.
Meanwhile, the incredible artwork at The Hills was a pleasant distraction for players and fans.
A flawless nine-under 62 increased Terry Pilkadaris’ lead to five strokes. Despite battling an upset stomach, he reached 24-under 190 after registering 25 birdies and just one bogey through 54 holes.
Two-time New Zealand amateur champion Daniel Hillier produced an exhilarating 64 that included an eagle, eight birdies and three bogeys.
Two of New Zealand’s finest, Greg Turner and Phil Tataurangi, enjoyed a chat during Sky TV’s broadcast of the Open.
It wasn’t all low scoring at Millbrook. Two boys found time to search for golf balls in the pond fronting the par-5 17th green.
Eight years after first visiting Queenstown to caddie in the New Zealand Open, Daniel Nisbet departed with the Brodie Breeze Cup following a final-round 62 that gave him a two-stroke victory over Terry Pilkadaris.
Nisbet’s aggregate of 258 smashed the tournament record of 262 (set by Rodger Davis in 1986 at The Grange). And his 27-under tally bettered the lowest score to par (26 under by Kel Nagle in 1964 at Christchurch Golf Club).
Rookie Nick Voke was the leading Kiwi, finishing T-7 on 20 under.
Low amateur Daniel Hillier posed with the Bledisloe Cup alongside Major winners Sir Bob Charles and Michael Campbell.
The par-3 18th at Millbrook Resort served as a climactic closing hole for spectators in the marquee flanking the green.