Cameron Jones has a one-shot lead over Ryan Chisnall and Richard Lee after the opening day at the Autex Muriwai Open.
Following the long competitive lay-off due to the COVID-19 lockdown, Jones blew away the cobwebs and early nerves with a 5-under round of 72 which included an eagle on the 6th as he headed for home.
The winds picked up late in the day but they didn’t affect Jones as for him it was just like playing event golf again for the first time.
“It feels really good, although a little surprising I must admit,” Jones said after his round.
“I’ve been playing so much casual golf with friends and clients recently that golf has been very relaxing.
“Driving out here today there were definitely a few nerves and they didn’t leave all day. It was helpful playing with Brad [Shilton] as we kept it nice and relaxed which made it easy to embrace the nerves.
“Coaching has actually been really good for my mindset coming into today; it’s reminded me why I love playing the game and it’s simplified a few things. It’s taken my mind off my own golf,” Jones explains.
“I’m just happy to have hit some good shots and hole a few putts,” he said.
Chisnall and Lee are hovering a shot back after they teed off as part of the morning field and watched the winds pick up for the afternoon.
Lee made waves early in the day finding himself at six-under with two to play.
Despite finishing with two bogeys, Lee was happy to get a score of four-under to begin the weekend.
“I started off really well,” Lee said, “I drained a long putt for birdie on the first and eagled the second with another good putt there. That continued for a lot of the round.
“It’s always a pleasure coming back to Muriwai. This is a great event and the golf course always shows its teeth at some point in the week. Hopefully, I can keep this up.”
After the round, Chisnall said it was exciting to get the competitive juices flowing once again.
“It’s awesome to be back out at Muriwai and we had a beautiful morning,” he said.
“I was excited to tee off and get things rolling again and I got off to quite a nice start which gave me a few nerves early on which I haven’t had in a while. I enjoyed the day.”
Round two gets underway tomorrow morning and spectators are welcome for Friday and all weekend.
Leaders after Round 1
67 Cameron Jones (PGA New Zealand)
68 Ryan Chisnall (PGA New Zealand), Richard Lee (PGA New Zealand)
69 Michael Hendry (PGA New Zealand), Matt McLean (Harewood), Jaeseung Na (Pakuranga), Gareth Paddison (PGA New Zealand)