Queensland golfer Wood seizes four-shot NZ Open lead
Queensland battler Christopher Wood isn't getting ahead of himself after shooting the lights out to claim a four-stroke first-round lead at the high-stakes New Zealand Open.
Wood made light of the supposedly more testing afternoon conditions to record a bogey-free 10-under-par 61 and seize early command of the tournament.
The 2021 Victorian PGA Championship winner bagged eight birdies and an eagle three on the par-5 10th hole that sparked a back-nine 29 at the beautiful Millbrook Resort course near Queenstown.
"It's only round one," Wood said.
"It's obviously great to get off to a good start so hopefully get out there early in the morning and keep going."
The world No.932 was labouring along playing "average" golf before finding something en route to a tie for 11th at the TPS Sydney tournament two weeks ago.
"The last tournament back in Australia I played pretty decent the last three rounds. I knew the game was coming around nicely," Wood said.
"I played pretty solid all day. The putter got hot pretty early and just rode the momentum as the round went on.
"Definitely wasn't expecting to play this well today but it was definitely nice to shoot 10 under.
"It's my second-lowest ever round but lowest in a tournament so this is very special."
Wood leads a batch of chasers at six under including veteran New Zealander Steve Alker, fellow Kiwi Kit Bittle, Thailand's Gunn Charoenkul and Japanese pair Yosuke Asaji and Tomoyo Ikemura.
Victoria's Gippsland Super 6 winner Tom Power Horan also carded a 65 and held a six-way share of the lead after the morning wave.
Power Horan is fourth in the season-long PGA Tour of Australasia's Order of Merit, with DP World Tour cards on offer to the top three finishers not already exempt.
With British Open champion Cameron Smith above him, that leaves Power Horan in the box seat to nab a card, and other overseas benefits.
But with Asian Tour co-sanctioning and quadruple points on offer at the $A1.52million NZ Open, Wood has rocketed into the mix.
He started the week in 23rd spot but could conceivably climb as high as second with a victory on Sunday.
Power Horan is certainly aware of the importance of the big points up for grabs and says the tension is palpable.
"With the Asian Tour status that I have, I haven't got a ton of starts yet and the re-rank is in a couple of events," he said.
"For not only the Australian Order of Merit but the Asian Tour Order of Merit, to get my category a little better, I knew it was going to be a big week.
"When you play those bigger events, stronger fields and there's a lot more Asian players and Japanese players, it's a little different as well.
"When you play a million-dollar event, with all the points, it just feels a little different. There's just a bit more going on.
"There's more crowds, there's more off-course stuff than other smaller events."