Three Aussies and Kiwi lead New Zealand Open

BY | Australasian PGA Tour | 2004 New Zealand Open | Round One | 15 Jan 2004
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Auckland-based amateur Brad Heaven and three Australians appreciated the excellent conditions at The Grange today to card six-under 64s for a share of the first round lead in the 87th Holden New Zealand Open in Auckland.

Heaven, 23, returns on Monday for his final semester at the University of Toledo. Classes have resumed and he is keeping in touch with his teachers and note-taking classmates through email.

No doubt his absence will be excused as he attempts to win his country’s Open championship or at least the Bledisloe Cup as the leading amateur.

Atop the leaderboard with Heaven was 1995 New Zealand Open champion, Peter O’Malley, from New South Wales, Victorian rookie, Ben Bunny, and South Australian Wade Ormsby.

Both Heaven and Ormsby had bogey-free rounds, Heaven having three birdies on each half and holing a 15-foot saver for par on his 13th hole. That was the only time he was in danger of dropping a shot to par.

Ormsby, who missed a start in a co-sanctioned tournament in South Africa despite finishing second at the six-round European Tour qualifying school, was a late entry. He was equal fifth in last year’s New Zealand Open at Middlemore and a seventh in last month’s Australian PGA championship confirmed he had held his form well.

Ben “Bugs” Bunny proved himself no golfing rabbit. In his first round as a professional, he had a share of the lead. He had eight birdies and three of them came on his last three holes. He drove well, and had the wedge and putter performing on the final holes.

O’Malley, the 1995 New Zealand Open champion at The Grange, had nine birdies and three bogeys, twice when he found bunkers and once through a three-putt.

The ideal conditions, little wind and soft fairways and greens, were reflected in the scoring with 63 players in the 154-strong field bettering the par of 70.

Current Bledisloe Cup amateur champion Chris Johns, from North Harbour, and Australian professionals Matthew Millar and Ricky Schmidt were one off the pace and a further nine players were on four-under.

Sir Bob Charles, in his final New Zealand Open, never got into the swing and is likely to miss the cut after a 74. Defending champion Mahal Pearce and 1991 winner at The Grange David Smail both had three-under 67s, and New Zealand No. 1 Michael Campbell has work to do after his 71 left him tied for 87th.

Source – New Zealand Open

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