He’s fired a near-flawless seven-under 65 at New Plymouth Golf Club to lead by one over James Anstiss and the in-form Woonchul Na.
Hillier played 11-holes in the abandoned first round on Thursday, but that didn’t seem to take much out of him today. He got off to a flying start making birdies at the second, fifth, eighth and ninth holes along with an eagle at the par 5 seventh to make the turn at six-under.
He picked another shot upcoming home to shoot the round of the day and is naturally happy with his start to the tournament.
“I got off to a hot start being six-under at the turn,” Hillier said.
“I didn’t drive it all that well today but managed to miss it in all of the right spots and had a couple of crucial par saves on 12, 13, and 14 which kept the round going.
“I managed to make one more coming home after that,” he explains.
The DVS Pegasus Open champion battled at last week’s Carrus Open but found something in the final round also carding seven-under.
Daniel Hillier said golf is a funny game and he’s trying to ride his good momentum coming into this week.
“It was an interesting week last week but managed to finish off strongly. I tried to take that momentum into this week, and it was nice we had some decent conditions for the most part today.
“The breeze got up a little which makes it tricky, but it was an awesome day out there and I managed to capitalise.”
The in-form Woonchul Na trailed Hillier by one after the opening round.
Na was flawless shooting a bogey-free six-under 66 and is also carrying some positive momentum from The Carrus Open where he finished in a tie for second.
Na has been a bridesmaid numerous times on the Jennian Homes Charles Tour, which is something he is looking to change this week.
“I managed to go bogey-free today. I hit lots of fairways and greens and managed to make a few putts. Nothing really went wrong,” Na explained.
“I’ve had plenty of second places before and I’m really confident teeing it up this week. I’m just looking forward to getting into it over the next couple of days, I think I’m in with a good chance.”
Na played 13 holes yesterday in the blustery conditions yesterday, and although he expended a lot of energy battling the elements, he was happy to get out there.
He’s been battling a sore neck and was able to loosen it up during yesterday’s abandoned round.
Momoka Kobori is the leading female sitting just four shots back and is tied with Sam Vincent as the low amateur.
Leaderboard after Day 1
-7 65 Daniel Hillier (PGA New Zealand)
-6 66 James Anstiss (PGA New Zealand), Woonchul Na (PGA New Zealand)
-5 67 Lachie McDonald (Marton), Luke Toomey (PGA New Zealand)
-4 68 Mark Brown (PGA New Zealand), Kieran Muir (Omokoroa), Josh Geary (PGA New Zealand)
-3 69 Sung Jin Yeo (PGA New Zealand), Chang Gi Lee (PGA New Zealand), Fraser Wilkin (P, PGA New Zealand), Sam Vincent (Riverside), Momoka Kobori (Rangiora), Sam An (Titirangi)