Trio of Aussies out in front in NZ

Australians Aaron Townsend, Matthew Ballard and Adam Bland shared the lead at 6 under par on Thursday after the first round of the New Zealand PGA golf championships.

Townsend had a bogey-free round to earn his share of the lead, while Bland mixed an eagle and six birdies with two bogeys and Ballard had two eagles, four birdies and two bogyes in rounds of 66.

Five players, including defending champion Michael Hendry of New Zealand, were tied for fourth place, one shot back at 5 under.

Japan’s Toshinori Nuto, a five-time winner on the Japan tour, had a 4-under opening round of 68 at The Hills course. Three-time US Open-winner, 67-year-old Hale Irwin shot an 8-over 80.