Andrew Dodt and Andrew Martin finished their rounds at The Hills at eight under, profiting from receptive fairways and greens softened up by light rain during the morning.
Andrew Martin after carding an 8 under at The Hills golf course during day one – Photo: photosport.nz
Dodt, who was runner-up to Robert Gates when The Hills hosted the New Zealand Open in 2010, made the turn at one under, but came home with five birdies and an eagle for a 29 on the back nine.
The European Tour player opted to skip a tournament in South Africa this week in favour of the Millbrook Resort and The Hills courses where he has played well previously, including a sixth-placed finish last year.
“I like both courses and I like New Zealand in general. It’s nice to get off to a good start, but I think conditions are supposed to stay the same for the rest of the week, so it’s foot down, make birdies,” he said.
Dodt had his frustrations on the front nine, but managed to make up for that later.
“I hit probably four or five shots inside eight feet in the first nine holes and made one, so it could have been four or five under early on. I just stayed patient, tried to let go a bit, and did that well on the back nine.”
Martin, a runner-up in the NZ PGA Championships in 2012, was solid throughout.
Starting on the 10th he picked up regular birdies to turn at three under and then finished with back-to-back birdies for his 64.
Of the morning scorers, Dodt and Martin are one shot ahead of Terry Pilkadaris (Australia) and Harry Bateman (New Zealand) with a further shot back to 11 players on six-under to confirm the outstanding scoring conditions.
Meanwhile, South Korean star KJ Choi has mixed a birdie with a bogey to be even through the front nine at Millbrook.