Golf: Queenstown pro Ben Campbell leading Kiwi one shot behind NZ Open first-round leaders at Millbrook

Queenstrown pro Ben Campbell has holed an eagle putt on the final hole to close within a stroke of the first-round leaders at the NZ Open at Millbrook.

Campbell, 32, recorded three strokes on the par-five 18th to finish the opening round tied for third and leading Kiwi in a tightly packed field. His three on the par-five 18th helped him to a six-under 65, trailling just one shot behind Aussies Matthew Griffin and Scott Hend.

"It was good to finally hold one there on the last," he said. "I probably had 4-5 putts come up short that I thought were in, so nice to make one there on the last.

Ben Campbell in action at the NZ Open.
Ben Campbell in action at the NZ Open. Photo credit: Photosport

"My game wasn’t too far away today. It could have been a really low one, so nice to start like that."

Campbell lost a playoff with fellow Kiwi Michael Hendry at the 2017 NZ Open and finished runner-up again last year, behind Australian Brendon Jones, before winning the Hong Kong Open on the Asian Tour last November for his first international victory.

He has previously won the NZ PGA Championship in 2018.

Campbell is one of six Kiwis within three strokes of the lead, with Kieran Muir one shot back on 66, and Daniel Hillier, Josh Geary, Luke Toomey and Chang Gi Lee on 67.

Among other notables, Jones is tied for 51st on two-under 69, Hendry is 107th equal on even par and redhot professional rookie Kazuma Kobori has work to do over the second round, eight strokes off the pace and tied for 124th.

PGA Champions Tour stat Steven Alker sits tied for 150th on five over. 

Meanwhile, LPGA Tour leader Lydia Ko is eight shots off the pace at the HSBC Women's World Championship at Singapore, carding a birdie-free four-over 76.

Kiwi Ko sits atop the tour standings, after winning the season-opening Tournament of Champions in January, then finishing runner-up at the Drive On Championship a week later.