Andrew Dodt and Andrew Martin shot their way to an early lead in perfect conditions on the first day of the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open in Queenstown.

Andrew MartinThe two Australians finished their rounds at The Hills on 8-under 64, profiting from receptive fairways and greens softened up by light rain during the morning.

Dodt, who was runner-up to Bobby Gates when The Hills hosted the New Zealand Open in 2010, made the turn at 1-under, but came home with five birdies and an eagle for a 29 on the back-9.

The European Tour player opted to skip a tournament in South Africa this week in favour of the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and Asian Tour co-sanctioned event played at Millbrook Resort and The Hills courses where he has played well previously, including a 6th placed finish last year.

“I like both courses and I like New Zealand in general. It’s nice to get off to a good start, but I think conditions are supposed to stay the same for the rest of the week, so it’s foot down, make birdies,” he said.

Dodt had his frustrations on the front-9, but managed to make up for that later.

“I hit probably four or five shots inside eight feet in the first nine holes and made one, so it could have been four or five under early on.

“I was starting to get a little anxious thinking I needed to start making some putts soon. I just stayed patient, tried to let go a bit, and did that well on the back-9.”

“I got a little hot from the 14th, birdied 14, 15, 16. Hit driver, 3-wood on 17 to 10 feet and birdied the last.”

Martin, a runner-up in the NZ PGA Championships in 2012, was solid throughout.

Starting on the 10th he picked up regular birdies to turn at 3-under and then finished with back-to-back birdies for his 64.

“All the boys give me a bit of grief about how well I play at The Hills. I just feel really comfortable on the course, everything suits my eye,” said Martin.

“It was a pretty stress free round for me, I know my lines and I was hitting good shots in to give myself lots of chances to drop a few putts.”

Of the morning scorers, Dodt and Martin are one shot ahead of Terry Pilkadaris (Australia) and Harry Bateman (New Zealand) with a further shot back to 11 players on 6-under to confirm the outstanding scoring conditions.

Meanwhile, South Korean star KJ Choi has mixed a birdie with a bogey to be even through the front-9 at Millbrook.