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American trio leads NZ Open

American trio leads NZ Open

A double bogey on the last hole cost Josh Teater a shot at the course record and dropped him into a share of the lead with fellow Americans Todd Dempsey and Alex Prugh after Thursday's first round of the New Zealand Open.
Teater, who shared seventh place at last week's New Zealand PGA and lies 14th on the money list on the U.S. Nationwide Tour, collected nine birdies before a six at the 450-meter last hole, where a birdie would have given him a share of the course record of 62, held by Australian Peter Fowler.
He finished with a 7-under 65 at the par-72 Hills course near the resort city of Queenstown. Dempsey and Prugh's unblemished cards contained seven birdies.
The leading trio was two shots clear of Australian Stephen Dartnall, American Martin Pillar and South Korea's Han Seung-sun, who all shared fourth place at 5 under.
Teater had three birdies in an outward 33, a run of four in a row from the 11th hole and two more on the 16th and 17th before his tee shot on the 18th found a fairway bunker.
He visited the sand again before scrambling a six which tied the lead in the $600,000 tournament, co-sanctioned by the Nationwide and Australasian PGA tours.
"The day was totally different to the first few days we were here. Yesterday morning at the pro-am I played pretty well and shot close to even," Teater said.
A cold snap in Queenstown saw temperatures drop to a seasonal record low of 3 degrees Celsius (37 F) for Wednesday's pro-am. Teater began his round early, as did Dempsey, before strengthening winds made scoring difficult in the afternoon.
"Today it felt like a different game, not really the wind to account for," Teater said.
"I was hitting pretty decent, pretty close, using the slopes on the greens to get close and then making some putts."
It has been nine years since Dempsey last held the first round lead in a Nationwide Tour event. He had played The Hills course only once before Thursday's opening round, in bitter cold Monday.
"I hadn't played it in good conditions and I was surprised I was able to score out there," he said.
"I just played real steady and made a couple of putts. I missed a few opportunities but made a couple too so I'm pretty happy with how I played."
New Zealand PGA winner Steve Alker was among a group of 11 players a further shot back in sixth place.
New Zealand's Bob Charles, back in the field after tying for 23rd in 2007 at The Hills, shot 73 Thursday. Charles, who will be 73 on Saturday, was the first left-hander to win a major championship when he took the 1963 British Open.
Charles won the New Zealand Open as an amateur in 1954 and added titles as a pro in 1966, 1970 and 1973.


Updated : 2021-03-02 04:10 GMT+08:00