Mount Maunganui amateur Bradley Kendall came storming home to shoot a magnificent six-under par 64 late in the first round of the Carrus Tauranga Open yesterday.
The 20-year-old's outstanding round was highlighted by the precision of his short game and left him tied for second with professional Mark Brown, just a shot behind a superb round of 63 by Takaka amateur Blair Riordan.
Riordan started with three straight birdies and an eagle on the par-five seventh set him off to the best round he has played around the Tauranga course. This despite the extra thick rough allowed to grow, to tighten up the course this year.
"The conditions were good and the rough makes hitting fairways paramount and I hit a lot of fairways so it was easy hitting into the greens," Riordan said.
"I was not expecting to shoot this sort of number, but I have been hitting the ball well and progressing well. Sometimes it just happens."
Kendall is playing in his fourth Tauranga Open and he came into the tournament in hot form after winning the club championships at his Mount Maunganui course last weekend.
He was pleased all the hard work hitting balls has paid off.
"I have been hitting it pretty good for the last couple of weeks so I came out here and tried to keep it going," Kendall said.
"I putted pretty well but I didn't birdie any of the par fives. The secret was the way I played from within 100 metres really.
"I have been working quite hard on my short game with my coach Jay Carter, including doing an Aimpoint putting course which is really like a green-reading book.
"Local knowledge helps with playing here as the first few holes are a bit tricky so it helps to know the lines."
One of the most difficult things to achieve in golf is backing up a blistering low round with a similar score the next round.
Kendall is regarded as one of the more laid back characters among New Zealand's elite amateur players and is relaxed about how he will go in today's second round.
"I am just going to go out and do what I normally do. Conditions are usually better in the morning so I will hopefully use them to my advantage."
Tournament Director Phil Aitken was delighted with the presentation of the course and the high quality scoring on day one.
"There was some really good scoring and the course is in the best condition of any of the seven Carrus Opens played here," Aitken said.
"There has been some superb golf with a 63 and two 64s which is certainly a nice compliment to the course superintendent Graham Duncan and the work they have put in.
"The greens are really firm and I didn't expect the scoring to be as good as what it has been. The couch grass has really grown in so the quality of the lies in the fairway and the strike you can get on the ball is working nicely.
"It has put a real premium on hitting fairways and the putting surface is a nice moderate pace, particularly as we don't know what sort of weather is coming. It's also nice to come back to a club like this, that know about running a Charles Tour event and it runs like clockwork."
Western Bay professional golfers Kieran Muir and Jared Pender, and Tauranga amateur Karl Knedler, all shot two-under 68s.
In the women's section Grace Senior from Tauranga was first equal with a par 72, with Rotorua golfer Heather Lavery a shot further back.
63 Blair Riordan (Takaka Golf Club)
64 Mark Brown (P, New Zealand), Bradley Kendall (Mt Maunganui Golf Club)
65 Troy Ropiha (P, New Zealand)
66 Tae Koh (Manukau Golf Club), Luke Nobilo (P, New Zealand).
72 Grace Senior (Tauranga Golf Club), Sai Ma (North Shore Golf Club)
73 Heather Lavery (Rotorua Golf Club)
75 Tyla Kingi (Opotiki Golf Club), Jess Guenzerodt (Russley Golf Club), Larissa Eruera (Akarana Golf Club)