VICTORIA, Australia (March 9, 2017) -- Daniel Hillier has become fond of Australian golf and wasted no time in resuming that love affair on Thursday, joining the early lead in the Australian Riversdale Cup in Melbourne.
The young New Zealander, who won the Australian Junior Championship in Tasmania last April, shares top billing with rapidly improving Queenslander Douglas Klein after the first round at Riversdale Golf Club.
Hillier, also the 2015 NZ Amateur champion, bolted from the blocks after starting his round on the 10th and was quickly 3-under through six holes to be within one of Klein’s morning mark.
But the Kiwi dropped a shot on the always testing 17th hole and had to bide his time until the sixth before he could reach the Queenslander’s 4-under total.
In contrast, Klein, who also started on the 10th, was still square with the card through 10 holes, but made birdies on the second, sixth, seventh and ninth to rattle home in 32.
Hot on their heels is a trio including defending champion and world No. 22 Harrison Endycott, of Sydney, Melbourne’s Aiden Didone and newly crowned Boroondara Cup champion Kyle Michel on 3-under-par 69.
Boom Canberra youngster Josh Armstrong continued his impressive summer to be in a cast of nine players at two under, including his New South Wales state teammates Travis Smyth and Blake Windred.
Charlie Dann, Haydn Barron, Cameron John, Kevin Yuan, David Micheluzzi and impressive South Australian Lachlan Barker are well in the mix at one under, while Shae Wools-Cobb and Perth’s Min Woo Lee are the biggest names at even par.
Of the higher-profile players, recently crowned Australian Amateur champion Matias Sanchez fared the worst carding a 5-over 77 without a birdie leaving him much work to do on Friday.