New Zealand Open underway in Arrowtown
MATT RICHENS AND FRED WOODCOCK IN ARROWTOWN
6.38pm: Play is winding down in Arrowtown with just a handful of players still on course, but none threatening the leaders. Little change from the last update, with four players still tied at the top.
Aussie Scott Strange, playing Millbrook Resort in the afternoon, joining compatriots Andrew Dodt, Terry Pilkadaris and Jake Stirling with six-under par 66s.
Interestingly, all players at six-under played Millbrook today, as did three of the four players a shot behind at five-under.
Among that group tied for fourth is Kiwi Mark Brown.
And in better news for the local fans this afternoon, three Kiwis have snuck up the leaderboard to four-under after rounds of 68 this afternoon - Richard Lee, Dominic Barson and Mathew Perry. We'll have a full wrap shortly.
5.38pm There's now four at the top, with Aussie Scott Strange joining comaptriots Andrew Dodt, Terry Pilkadaris and Jake Stirling after shooting a six-under par 66 at Millbrook Resort this afternoon.
Interestingly, all players at six-under played Millbrook today, as did three of the four players, including leading Kiwi Mark Brown, who are at five-under.
The good news for local fans is that a few Kiwis have snuck up to four-under after rounds of 68 in the afternoon - Richard Lee, Dominic Barson and Mathew Perry.
4.35pm Kiwi pro Mark Brown on his five-under 67 today at Millbrook, which sees him tied for fourth one shot off the pace:
"It was a good start. It was cold this morning, tough to make a couple of swings for the first few holes, it was actually quite hard to move. I didn't warm up for a while, but once we got past that turned into a beautiful day.
"I hit a couple of rough shots and got up and down to save those to make par, and took advantage of a couple of birdie putts which was a nice way to finish.
"It was just one of those rounds where I've been really good tee to green. Today I was actually a bit looser than what I am normally. Had a couple of really poor shots, a bit up and down, had a couple of putts, kind of shifted my mentality to 'I'm actually playing quite good here' and that gave me that confidence on the greens."
3.35pm The wind is starting to get up I'm Arrowtown and there's not quite the same low numbers. That said, Hamilton's Mathew Perry has got to six-under at Millbrook and a share of the lead.
We're out on course at The Hills and some are still playing well.
Some of the amateurs have been surprisingly good. Some have been woeful. The tail wind at the drivable 15th at The Hills is making things interesting and a few people have driven the ball very close.
But as the wind keeps getting worse, being off this morning could prove to be an advantage. And if Perry can hold on, he could be in great shape with an early tee time tomorrow alongside his pro-am partner Cris Judd.
2.40pm Andrew Dodt is tied for the lead at six-under, the same score as Terry Pilkadaris and Jake Stirling. All shot at Millbrook.
Dodt was happy with his round and looking forward playing at the Hills where he was runner-up in 2010.
"It was just a solid game of golf. I think I missed one green. I holed some nice putts," he said.
"Yeah, some good memories. I played Millbrook today and I'm looking forward to getting out on the The Hills. There's a lot of good memories here."
The stats for Ricky Ponting's round are alson in and they're impressive. Like seriously impressive.
Ponting made eight birdies at Millbrook this morning. Eight!
Now the pros are playing off the black, but Ponting and the other amateurs are still off the blue tees and the course is still set up to New Zealand Open standards.
Ponting is playing in the teams competition with friend Daniel Popovic.
The pair went eight-under for the day under the best-ball format. Kiwi Mark Brown, who played alongside Ponting, Popovic and Stephen Fleming, was impressed with the ex-cricketer's round.
The former Australian test captain, who had two bogeys and three pars as well as his eight birdies, plays off a +1 handicap at the Royal Melbourne Course, a handicap which allows him just one shot at Millbrook.
1.50pm Aussie Terry Pilkadaris has just birdied his final hole to replicate compatriot Andrew Dodt's 66 at Millbrook Resort and take a share of the lead at six-under.
Wellington pro Mark Brown and China's Li Hao Tong are one shot back, having also played Millbrook.
Mike Hendry and Rocco Mediate have just finished their rounds at Millbrook and both signed for even-par 72s which, right now, is only good enough for a share of 58th.
They'll need sub-par rounds tomorrow to progress.
And we can confirm Josh Geary has finished his round with a two-under 70 at The Hills, having held the lead at five-under earlier in the morning.
1.15pm The sun is out and the scoring is heating up in Arrowtown.
There's been plenty of movement during the past 30 minutes and the upshot is we have Australian Andrew Dodt leading at six-under after just signing for a 66 at Millbrook Resort.
Kiwi pro Mark Brown has birdied his final hole at Millbrook and carded an excellent five-under 67 to be one shot off the pace. He's joined by China's Li Hao Tong and veteran Aussie Terry Pilkadaris.
Dodt is a former winner on the European Tour.
Meanwhile, Southland amateur Vaughan McCall has had a great day at Millbrook and is in the clubhouse with a three-under 69.
Also at three-under is Kiwi pros Nick Gillespie and Kieran Muir, both still out on course.
Ryan Fox and Gareth Paddison (both finished) and Josh Geary (through 16) are at two-under par, Geary having dropped three shots after being at five-under through his first 10 holes.
Word is former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting, playing in the pro-am championship with compatriot pro Daniel Popovic, is three-under par nearing the end of his round.
The amateurs are playing off tees slightly forward of the pros, but still that is is an excellent score at Millbrook, even for a +1 handicapper.
12.14pm Josh Geary has made a double bogey and now there is a three-way tie at the top at four-under.
Geary made a double-bogey five at The Hills' par-three fourth.
We're not exactly sure what happened to him there, but there's plenty of bunkers and water on that hole and Geary drops back to three-under.
Australians Rohan Blizard and Andrew Dodt share the lead with Li Hao Tong from China at the moment.
Tong and Dodt still have five holes to play at Milbrook while Blizard has three left at The Hills.
There are currently 28 players under-par, four hours after the first players took the course.
11.50am Josh Geary is still our leader here, at five-under. He's played 12 and looks good at The Hills.
Australian Rohan Blizard and China's Li Hao Tong are both one back at four-under while one of the stories of the day could well be Vaughan McCall.
The Southland amateur is three under through 14 holes at Millbrook despite making a bogey at the par-four, fourth.
McCall's made four birdies including a run of three in a row from 10-12.
Geary has made five birdies and seven pars and has plenty of New Zealand Open form.
Geary has been the top Kiwi in four of the last five tournaments and was tied for third at the New Zealand PGA Championship at The Hills this time last year.
New Zealand's Mark Brown is one seven players at three-under with McCall while Ryan Fox is two-under, level with the field's top ranked player, Australian Scott Hend.
11.04am In the first two hours of play, 26 players got themselves under par.
Josh Geary is the current leader. He's at The Hills and is four under, level with Australian Jake Stirling who's at Millbrook.
Southland's Vaughan McCall is tied for third at three-under and is one of six at the score.
Geary started on The Hills' back nine and got hot shooting a four-under 32.
It's still cracking scoring conditions here this morning so there's no reason he and others can't keep digging further into the red figures.
The top two players in the field, Aussie Scott Hend and Kiwi No 1 Michael Hendry, are both at one-under.
10.23am Josh Geary's at four-under through eight at The Hills, one ahead of Aussies Andrew Dodt and Neven Basic.
It's slowly starting to warm up here and the scoring is matching it.
The feature group featuring Michael Hendry and former top 20 player Rocco Mediate aren't exactly tearing the course up and both are one-over through eight holes on Millbrook's back nine.
Hendry's just put his second on the 525m, par-5 18th - his ninth - to 20-feet and has a cracking chance for eagle. Mark Richardson hit the green for two too but hit an average first putt and takes par.
Mediate takes bogey, missing an 18-inch putt to drop to two over. Hendry missed eagle but holes two-footer for birdie - his first of the day and moved to even.
9.35am Kiwi pros Josh Geary and Marcus Wheelhouse are the early leaders at two-under par, through four and six holes respectively.
Wheelhouse only qualified on Monday but has made a nice start with two birdies.
Around 13 playersare at one-under including Canterbury amateur Jordan Bakermans who is playing his first round at The Hills.
Tournament favourite Mike Hendry is still at one-over through five holes at Millbrook, and he's now joined at that score by American Rocco Mediate who has just three putted the monster 570m par-five 14th for bogey.
The clouds have moved in and while there is no chance of rain at this stage, it's cold.
Colourful character Mediate is doing his best to stay warm and is puffing away on a Cuban cigar.
8.45am It's briskat Millbrook, but relatively still for the early players.
A handful of players in the NZ Open field are one-under early including Kiwi pro Nick Gillespie and Canterbury amateur Jordan Bakermans who had to get through two qualifying rounds just to get here.
We're on the back nine with the Hendry-Mediate group.
After two holes the leader off the stick in this group was former test cricketer Mark Richardson who started par-birdie thanks to a long putt on the tricky 127m par three 11th.
He then put one out of bounds from the green side bunker on 12. Mediate is even through three with Hendry one-over after finding the sand at the par-three 11th and failing to get up and down for par.
8.00am The New Zealand Open is underway in clear still conditions that promise some hot scoring this morning.
The first groups are off at both courses being used for the first two rounds – The Hills and nearby Millbrook Resort in Arrowtown.
The feature group this morning is Kiwi No 1 and tournament favourite Mike Hendry, who is playing alongside headline international golfer Rocco Mediate, the 2008 US Open runner-up, at Millbrook.
- Fairfax Media
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