AUSTRALIAN Craig Hancock won his battle with the wind to post a four-under 68 and claim the lead after the opening day of the New Zealand Open in Christchurch.
The Tasmanian has a two-shot margin over Victorian Kristopher Mueck and Aucklander Ryan Fox at the Clearwater Golf Club.
On a day when the winds reached gusts of 50kmph, a group of nine others ended with a share of fourth, one shot further back. “I struggled a little bit early on, but fought the wind towards the end,” Hancock said “We’re sort of used to it in Tassie. It wasn’t all bad for me.”
The 28-year-old Hancock came into the tournament with a good result in the Australian Masters last weekend, when he finished in a tie for 14th. He continued his form yesterday with a round that contained five birdies and a bogey.
No New Zealander has won the title since Mahal Pearce in 2003 and Fox was five under through 11 before losing a ball.
Two-time champion Greg Turner, making his return to the event after ten years, was in line for a sub-par round, but a bogey-double bogey finish left him with a two-over 74 and tied for 33rd.