New Zealander Mark Brown has the lead after the opening round of the New Zealand PGA pro Am Championship at the Hills Golf Club in Queenstown.
Wellingtonian, Brown's opening round of 66 has him one ahead of Victorians Andrew Martin and Tim Wood.
Brown played early in the day but not as early as his originally scheduled tee time. Fog covered low lying areas of the stunning layout, tee times put back ninety minutes which would then eventually impact on the capacity for play to be completed on day one.
It was not, although it was a close call with only two players unable to complete their rounds. Ed Stedman and Rhys Bishop will be required to return to the Hills early tomorrow morning to putt out at the last and then commence their second rounds soon after.
37 year old Brown was a fine player in his amateur career and during his early years in the professional ranks but eventually gave away tournament golf and took up a role with New Zealand Golf. In 2006 he returned and in 2008 he would win the Johnnie Walker Classic, a European Tour event he had gained access to through the Asian Tour. It set him up in Europe for the next few years although he eventually lost his rights to play there last season.
"The conditions were good once you got past the coldness," said Brown referring to the cool conditions that previaled early. "If we had have teed off ay 8.10 things might have been a little different it might have been different but it was good. The ball was not going quite as far in the air early on so there was adjustment needed but other than that it was good.
"The course is quite a bit different to when I played it, the only previous time that being in 2007 as the course is not as firm as it was then. Being a couple of months later in the year the course is a lot softer. Five years ago you could just tumble one down there but now you have to fly it through the air.
"This is just my second tournament of the year as in the past I would have been in Europe by now. This year not having any status in Europe I have had two months off. I played last week in Indonesia and played pretty well so I think the combination of being fresh and playing pretty well has worked for me."
Brown has full OneAsia Tour status and will play events there along with some on the European Challenge (secondary) Tour. "If I play well in those in Europe I will stay on if not then will come back and play the OneAsia Tour.
"Losing your European Tour card is not great but I am looking forward to playing less and am looking at this as a positive as I can spend a little more time at home and work on fitness. The season therefore should be full enough."
Martin is a former Australian Amateur Champion who has not yet excelled in the professional ranks although there have been signs of late that things might improve. He recently finished runner-up at the Queensland PGA Championship and is clearly a player better than his results to date suggest.
Also at 5 under par 67 is Tim Wood who has suffered all sorts of ailments and illnesses in recent years after his game was on the verge of some major achievements. He had won the NSW Open in 2008 and contended for Tim Clark's Australian Open early in the final round in 2009. There have been many times on the sideline since but at his best he is very solid player.
Several players are at 4 under namely Paul Sheehan, Xin Jun Zhan, Stephen Leaney, Paul Spargo, Clint Rice, Jason Norris and Peter Cooke.
About The Author : Bruce Young
A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of the game comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.