HASTINGS, New Zealand (March 23, 2017) -- Mark Hutson (Muriwai Golf Club) alongside Amelia Garvey (Kaiapoi Golf Club), Julianna Hung (Russley Golf Club) and Subin Wui (Pupuke Golf Club) came through the gloom and drizzle at the Hastings Golf Club today to be the early leaders at the New Zealand Stroke Play Championship.
Late in the day Hutson stormed home to snatch the round one lead from Nick Coxon (Riverside Golf Club) with a fine seven under par 65.
Hutson had a bogey free round with birdies on the 1st, 6th, 9th 11th and 14th before putting an exclamation mark on his round with an eagle on the par 5, 17th hole.
After running away with the South Island Stroke Play title Hutson’s confidence is at an all-time high. Despite the course playing a lot longer today due to the persistent drizzle and softer conditions, he wasn’t troubled.
“The score was out there today, it’s only the first round, three more rounds to go so I’ll sleep well tonight,” he said.
It’s good to know you can go low and maintain it but it’s only the first round, a long way to go, and plenty of good players here so I’ll have to keep going low to maintain the lead.
Coxon, who lost this event in a playoff in 2015, is now one of the more seasoned amateur golfers, having played in the New Zealand Stroke Play six times despite only being 20 years of age.
Coxon got his championship off to the perfect start with a birdie on his first hole (the 10th). Five more birdies with a solitary bogey on the 12th hole saw him sign for a five under 67.
“It was a good start, you can certainly loose it on the first day, so it was nice to have a good score and I’ll try to build on that tomorrow,” said Coxon.
“My putting was pretty solid and I didn’t have many mistakes, so wasn’t under too much pressure today, so it felt really easy.”
Coxon wasn’t too bothered with the persistent drizzle adding “it wasn’t too bad, I didn’t notice it too much, it didn’t get too heavy this afternoon.”
Until Hutson and Coxon had their hot afternoon rounds Reid Hilton (Russley Golf Club) had lead for most of the day.
After starting on the 10th Hilton had a run of eight pars in a row before birdieing the 18th hole. He picked up further birdies on the 6th, 7th and 9th holes with a bogey in between on the 8th.
“the key today was putting it in play, I was hitting the driver reasonably straight and giving myself good numbers for my approaches in and made some good birdie putts down the stretch,” he said.
Most of the pre-tournament favourites kept themselves out of trouble and started well including Kerry Mountcastle (Masterton Golf Club) 70, Daniel Hillier (Masterton Golf Club) 71 and Henry Spring (Whakatane Golf Club) 72.
In the women’s event Amelia Garvey, Canterbury team mate Julianna Hung and North Harbour’s Subin Wui are the early leaders in the New Zealand Women’s Stroke Play, ahead of a large chasing pack.
Garvey who started slowly in round one was able to bounce back to good effect.
“I had a rough start being three over through five but I knew there were opportunities coming up with the par fives, 17 and 18, so managed to pull it back to one over through the turn and stayed patient on the back nine and made a couple of birdies.”
Garvey who is back from a successful week where she finished tied second at the Faldo Series event in Vietnam is using that international experience to full effect and is feeling confident this week.
“Coming close last week to winning I want to come here and get the job done this time, I love coming back and playing a couple of weeks in a row and getting into that competitive mind set.
Despite sharing the lead Hung wasn’t overly pleased with her round.
“I had a double bogey on 15 after a thinned bunker shot and things just didn’t go well from there. My putting wasn’t great, so I’m looking forward to improving that tomorrow,” she said.
Prior to the double bogey Hung had made four birdies and a bogey to reach three under par before coming back to the field.
The chasing pack is led by the New Zealand Women’s Amateur Champion Rose Zheng (Pakuranga Golf Club) who is looking to add the New Zealand Women’s Stroke Play title to her already impressive resume. Alongside her also on even par were Chantelle Cassidy (Riverside Golf Club), Carmen Lim (Windross Farm Golf Club), Sato Tajima (Rotorua Golf Club).
Round two starts at 7:45 a.m. tomorrow morning before the men’s field is cut to the leading 60 players and ties.