Golf: Kiwis Daniel Hillier, Josh Geary chase Aussie Scott Hend for NZ Open lead at Millbrook

Kiwis Daniel Hillier and Josh Geary have helped their chances of claiming NZ Open honours, carding six-under 65s to close within two strokes of Aussie leader Scott Hend at Millbrook, Arrowtown. 

Amid a tightly packed field, the pair made up ground over the second round, as five locals sit among the top 12 spots at halfway.

Hillier, who won the British Masters on the DP World Tour last year, birdied his final four holes on the Coronet course, with former Tiger Woods caddy Steve Williams on his bag.

Daniel Hillier in action at the NZ Open.
Daniel Hillier in action at the NZ Open. Photo credit: Supplied

"Definitely a bit of a grind out there, but a few chances coming in and managed to make the most of them," he said. "The key today was staying patient and hopefully I can keep that up tomorrow."

Geary, who finished runner-up at this tournament in 2019, recorded three straight birdies from 15-17 on the Coronet course to join Hillier, and Aussies Marcus Fraser, Matthew Griffin and Sam Brazel tied for second on 10 under par.

"It was quite tough being up the top when the wind got up and the greens got a bit crusty," said Geary. "I just had a really good ball-striking day, which was good timing, given the conditions.

"It was one of those days that felt, not easy, but easier than most."

Other Kiwis among the top dozen are Nick Voke (nine under) in seventh equal, and Ben Campbell and Kieran Muir (eight under) in 12th equal.

With the cut set at four under, several big names have missed out on weekend play, including former champion Michael Hendry (two under), PGA Champions star Steven Alker (one over) and redhot rookie pro Kazuma Kobori (two over).