THERE is a five-way tie after the opening round of the Lawnmaster Horizon New Zealand PGA Championship at the Manawatu Golf Club in Palmerston North.
New Zealanders Josh Geary, Tyler Hodge and Gareth Paddison share the lead with Australians Ben Clementson and rookie Anthony Quayle after their opening rounds of 6 under par 65.
Clementson and Geary had the benefit of the morning conditions while Paddison, Hodge and Quayle played in the afternoon so their rounds could be considered a little better on day one.
Geary, out in one of the first few groups of the day, reversed an ordinary run of recent form having missed the cut in each of his last five events.
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Clementson has a best of 5th in three seasons on the PGA Tour of Australasia, that coming in the South Pacific Open in his rookie season in 2014.
He struggled in 2016 and was forced to return to the Tour School late last year where he regained his status.
Paddison has been a professional for 16 years and has often shown up in events such as this and is recent months has put together several good finishes including when 3rd at the recent Victorian PGA Championship.
Quayle turned professional late in 2016 after an impressive amateur career making the Australian team for the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship last year and winning events such as the Keperra Bowl in Brisbane and the North West Amateur Championship in the US.
Quayle contended at the Victorian PGA Championship in his first event as a professional before finishing 12th and a good finish this week would secure him a start in his first Tier One event at next week’s New Zealand Open Championship.
Hodge is a former Australian Junior Champion who played a few events on the Australasian Tour last year.
The left hander is considered quite a talent and this provides a good opportunity for him. Hodge, from nearby Levin, went through the Monday qualifying for the event although as it turned out all those who teed up in the pre-qualifying ended up gaining a start.
The quintet is one shot ahead of Queenslander Daniel Nisbet, Victorians Deyen Lawson and former Australian Amateur Champion Andrew Martin and New Zealander Sean Riordan.
Pre-tournament favourite and defending champion Brad Kennedy made a solid start when he opened with a four under 67 to be just two behind the lead.
74 players are at even par or better suggesting an under par cut score at this time tomorrow.
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