World No 1 ranked amateur Danny Lee led
New Zealand to a solid start to the Eisenhower Trophy world amateur
team golf championships in Adelaide on Thursday.

After a quiet start to his round, the 18-year-old Rotorua player
shot three birdies in the last four holes to boost New Zealand to a
share of sixth place after the first round.

Lee fired a three-under par 70 while debutante Jared Pender
(Tauranga) managed an even-par 73 and James Gill (Hamilton) shot the
non-counting 74 at the par-73 Royal Adelaide Golf Club.

USA, one of New Zealand’s playing partners today, raced into the
lead after a brilliant 10-under par 136 for their two best counting
scores. The 14 time championship winners were led by matching
five-under par rounds of 68 by Rickie Fowler and Jamie Love

They are two shots ahead of Scotland who shot eight-under on the
nearby Grange course, which proved the more receptive with only USA
among the top five teams to play at Royal Adelaide.

Puerto Rico are third on seven-under, two shots ahead of France
and Wales, both tied for fourth while New Zealand shares sixth place
with South Africa.

Sweden are eighth on two-under, one shot ahead of England, Spain,
Korea and defending champions Netherlands, while hosts Australia in
a share of 17th place on one-over.

The New Zealanders were satisfied with their day in which they
were impressive tee to green but did not find many favours on the
slick and undulating greens.

“I missed some putts early and then just made pars and I had to
be patient. Finally the putts started to drop at the end of the
round,” Lee said.

“Three-under is a good start. The greens are firm and fast and
you have to really think about your approach shots and where the
first bounce will go. Sometimes you can’t attack the pin here.”

Lee started with an opening bogey before two birdies had him at
one-under par after nine holes. He three-putted the par-3 12th hole
before making three birdies in his last four holes.

Pender said he found the occasion daunting.

“I was really nervous at the start. My heart was beating through
my mouth those first few holes,” he said.

“After I got back to all square with the birdie at the 17th, I
left a birdie putt on the last a bit short and dead online. That
sort of summed up the day for me really.”

He dropped a shot at the second before making three birdies in
four holes to turn two-under. Pender then bogeyed three in a row
with a birdie at the par-5 17th got him back all square.

Gill, who has returned after completing his masters as St Andrews
University, was a little frustrated.

“It was an almost-round for me. I was caught in between clubs
quite often and so it was hard to be confident. And I got a few
gnarly lies around the green. I did nothing really wrong but there
are quite a few positives to take into tomorrow.”

Gill birdied the second hole but made a double bogey at the sixth
after driving behind a tree. He three-putted the 14th to drop a shot
but birdied the 17th.

The leading individual is Mauricio Muniz (Puerto Rico) who fired
a superb eight under 64 at Grange while Fowler and Lovemark share
second place on five under with Lee current in a share of fifth

Tomorrow New Zealand tees off at Grange course from noon (local
time) with playing partners Canada and Iceland.