Seeing his fellow Golf New Zealand National Academy members succeed in Jennian Homes Charles Tour events has motivated Tyler Wood, who finds himself at the top of the DVS Clearwater Open after the opening round.

The 22-year-old Ngahinepouri golfer fired a five-under 67 around Clearwater Golf Club in cool conditions to lead by a shot over professionals Josh Geary and Sung Jin Yeo and Clearwater Golf Club member Sam McGill.

Wood got his round underway on the fourth after the 8 o’clock shotgun start this morning and opened with a birdie before blasting his tee shot on five out of bounds resulting in a double, his only blemish of the day. He got back into re-figures quickly with back-to-back birdies on seven and eight and made four more at ten, 12, 16, and his finishing hole, the third.

Amateurs have won three of the four Jennian Homes Charles Tour events this year, and Wood is keen to add his name to the growing list of amateur winners on the tour.

“The boys have been playing really well, which has been hugely motivating for me. I’ve struggled a bit recently, and I just missed out on the Asia-Pacific Amateur. I’m really keen to turn my form around and start throwing my name back near the top of the leaderboards once again.

“I just need to stay patient and play each hole in front of me.”

He played 17 of the 18 holes well and saw enough good shots to fill him with confidence over the final two rounds.

Although the tournament format isn’t what he’s used to playing, he didn’t seem deterred and looks forward to the same again tomorrow.

“It was a bit of a surprise as I hit driver everywhere, all over the golf course! Although, I seemed to always be in play aside from one hole where I hit it out of bounds. Other than that, my wedge and iron play was crisp, so the round ended up being quite good.

“I just needed to get here a bit earlier as it was about a 20-minute walk to the tee I was on.” Wood laughs.

He leads a group of three players, including Geary, who is the only professional to win on the tour this year.

Geary played the kind of golf we’ve come to expect, making five birdies and a lone bogey at the last.

Geary says he needed a fast start, as it’s easy to fall behind in a shortened event such as the DVS Clearwater Open this week.

“You can’t afford to get too far behind. It was great to put a decent score on the board, but the approach remains the same. You just can’t fall too far behind as there are 18 holes less to catch everyone.

“I hit the ball really good, to be honest. I hit a few poor wedge shots early but hit the first 17 greens in regulation until I finally missed one up 18 after leaking my drive slightly right into the lip of the bunker.

“I didn’t make a putt outside of six feet, so I obviously hit the ball nicely, but unfortunately, not a lot to show for it. It was a bit of a frustrating day out there.”

McGill joins Geary and Yeo at four-under in front of his home supporters.

McGill, 31, began on the other side of the golf course on the 15th and began with an opening birdie. He followed that up with birdies at 17, one, four, five, and 14, with his only bogeys of the day coming at 11 and 13.

He says it was great to get off to a fast start at home.

“I love it around here. It’s great to be playing alongside the best in New Zealand, and before I teed off today, I said to myself that my game can stand up with the best of these guys, and I proved that today.”

A group of five golfers sit a further stroke back at three under, including the leading woman, Sumin Kang, and the Carrus Tauranga Open winner, Sam Jones.

Round two gets underway at 8am tomorrow with another shotgun start.