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Ben Campbell snatches New Zealand Open lead

Ben Campbell holes for one final birdie at the 18th (Photo: Photosport NZ)
New Zealand golfer Ben Campbell leads the 2017 ISPS Handa New Zealand Open after day one of the event at the Millbrook Resort and the Hills Golf Club near Arrowtown just outside the tourism playground of New Zealand, Queenstown.

Campbell, at one stage amongst the best amateur players in the world, reeled of a brilliant afternoon round of ten under par 61 creating a new course record in the process and moving him two shots clear of 2013 champion, Sydney’s Dimi Papadatos, and New Zealander Brad Shilton.

Campbell who has suffered from a series of injuries and illnesses for much of his professional career to date finally came good although a near miss at last week’s New Zealand PGA Championship perhaps threw out signals that a round such as this was close at hand.

Campbell’s unbelievable closing nine of 8 under par 28 to complete his round highlighted just how far he has come in his quest to fully capitalise on the significant potential he has often shown.

“It’s good to be playing and obviously getting off to a great start like this is always nice,” said Campbell after his afternoon round at Millbrook on day one. I’ve been so lucky to have the people around me that I have had – friends, family and sponsors that have kept my spirits high.” 

He was delighted with his round, which was a course record on the new routing at Millbrook Resort. “I played pretty solid out there, especially the back-9 where I had 28, which is a first for me, breaking 30,” added Campbell.

“I played well the front-9 and didn’t really get anything out of it. I bounced back well and just got it rolling, which was nice.”

Papadatos, playing in the group behind Campbell, bagged six birdies and an eagle at the par-4 14th in his eight-under 63.

“I started well and kept going, including holing out for an eagle from 105m which helped me out a bit,” said Papadatos.“Both courses are quite difficult but conditions favoured the players today and I was happy to have this start.”

Such were the conditions today and the pristine nature of the golf courses that 96 players broke par over two of the classiest layouts in New Zealand.  


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