Date: March 01, 2018
Author: PGA of Australia

Nisbet top Aussie in NZ birdie frenzy

The top 10 players combined to shoot a staggering 79 under par today as the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open began with a bang in Queenstown.

And when the birdie carousel finally slowed, Queenslander Daniel Nisbet, American Jarin Todd and Japan’s Tatsuya Kodai were top of an impressive heap at nine under.

Nisbet ran in six birdies on the back nine, while Kodai also came alive with some music of his own at The Hills for 63, and a similarly faultless round.

Asian Tour player Todd followed suit with a bogey-free 62 at the par-71 Millbrook Resort.

Nisbet, who first came to Queenstown as a caddie in 2010, was happy to make the most of the limp pin flags on a day designed for hot scoring.

"It was a pretty solid day, just keeping bogeys off the card. It is always a goal to go bogey-free and then get a couple of close ones which were a bonus," he said.

"The par-3 16th is usually my nemesis, but I hit it into two inches today. It was nice to walk off that hole with a two instead of a lot more, like I usually do."

Andrew Dodt, a runner-up at the 2010 New Zealand Open and sixth last year, was an early front-runner, his putter all but glowing with five birdies and an eagle for a 29 on the back nine to finish at eight under.

"It’s all playing well; it’s not going to get any easier than it is right now. You had to put the foot down today. The greens are pure, where you hit the putt that’s where it will stay," said Dodt, who finished a shot behind the leaders and tied with fellow Australians Andrew Martin and Travis Smyth.

Aucklander Harry Bateman is the leading New Zealander at seven under and tied for seventh alongside Scotland's Simon Yates, Korean Soon Sang Hong and veteran Aussie Terry Pilkadaris.

Remarkably, 118 of the 144-strong field finished better than par.