Alker shares early lead at New Zealand Open

Kiwi favourite Steven Alker has a share of the lead at the midway stage of the opening round at the 102nd New Zealand Open, presented by Sky Sport.

Day 1 – 2.30pm

Steven Alker carded seven birdies and a solitary bogey for a six-under 65 on the Remarkables course at Millbrook Resort, joining a packed top of the leaderboard which included Australians Tom Power Horan and Kit Bittle, Japan’s Yosuke Asaji and Thai player Gunn Charoenkul.

Lawry Flynn also looked to add his name to the group before a triple bogey on the 18th to card a 66, part of a chasing group including New Zealand amateurs Sam Jones and Kazuma Kobori.

Alker was most happy with his putting, apart from one three putt.

“I got a nice solid start, birdied the first couple of holes, so kind of settled down and got into a bit of a groove. I kind of felt like I just left a little bit out there because there wasn’t much wind today and I didn’t get the par fives on my back nine, the front nine,” he said.

“Overall the score was good, I just kept my nose clean, I think I had a three putt in there but apart from that it was pretty good.”

Playing alongside compatriot Daniel Hillier, who has made a solid start in his debut season on the DP World Tour, Alker was impressed with the 24-year-old’s play.

“I hadn’t met Dan properly until today, he’s got a lot of game – length and a nice move of the ball which is important. He plays with a lot of freedom. I love the way he swung it and played the game.”

Hillier, who carded an opening round of 67 on the Remarkable course and had Steve Williams on his bag, was equally impressed with Alker.

“He was rock solid. He’s shown that he can really compete at the highest level and definitely showed that today as well. It’s pretty cool to be able to go toe to toe with him for most of the day and hopefully have another good day like that tomorrow,” Hiller said.

“It was a lot of fun, obviously playing with Steven and having a bit of a crowd behind us. It was probably the best I’ve hit it in a long time, gave myself a lot of chances and felt like I hit it too good to shoot four under, but that’s golf.”

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