Josh Geary’s form from Christchurch has continued into the Taranaki Open, as he’s taken a one-shot lead after the opening day at New Plymouth Golf Club.

Geary’s objective is simple this week. A win at the Taranaki Open will earn him enough points to surpass local hero Sam Jones for the Jennian Homes Trophy.

The 37-year-old Bay of Plenty professional carded a six-under 66 to lead Michael Hendry and Cameron Jones by a shot, with Johnny Tynan a shot further back at four-under. Sam Jones, who played alongside the round one leader, shot a couple under.

Geary started his opening round off the ninth with a par but into his work quickly with a birdie at ten. He made four more birdies on his opening side at 14, 15, 17, and 18, with a bogey at 12 to be four-under-par as he made the turn.

With westerly winds increasing, Geary made a couple of bogeys on the first and second but was able to shrug those dropped shots off and come home strong, making birdies at three and six and an eagle to sign off on seven.

He says it was a funny round to open the tournament.

“I didn’t feel great and my body wasn’t quite moving well, but I managed to make a lot of birdies out there. I missed a few putts I shouldn’t have missed, but also made a few long putts that I shouldn’t have made, so everything balanced out in the end.”

He and Jones are the only two golfers left with a chance of lifting the Jennian Homes Trophy.

Geary says it was easy to keep an eye on his competition as they’re playing in the same group.

“There is a long way to go yet, but it’s a great start. I just need to keep plugging away and if I can play a little closer to like I did at Clearwater, a win should be very achievable. I just need to stay in my own lane and do my own thing.

“It’s hard not to [keep an eye on Sam]. But it is the first round, and we are so far from the last round it’s not even funny. I did keep a watchful eye, but it’s early days so far.”

His playing partner Jones got off to a slow start by his standards, shooting a two-under 70 to lie in a share of sixth.

The left-hander made five birdies and three bogeys to sit four back of his rival, a gap he’s keen to close over the next three days.

“I’m not entirely happy with the score. Although this westerly is strong, there are only a couple of holes, like 12 and 13, that play straight back into the breeze, so if you get through those holes all right, there are a lot of opportunities on the holes where the wind helps. All the par 5s are gettable, and there are several drivable par 4s; you just have to manage those par 3s.

“Overall, it wasn’t too bad. I’m still in it. But I’ll be looking for a bit more tomorrow.”

A shot back of the first-round leader is fellow Jennian Homes Charles Tour veteran Michael Hendry and Cameron Jones.

Hendry played a blemish-free round of golf to open his event, after recently returning from Japan.

He birdied three and seven to turn in a couple under, and made three on the back at 11, 17, and 18.

The 43-year-old is happy to be back playing on the Jennian Homes Charles Tour and says it’s the perfect event to hone his game before he travels back to Japan on Sunday night.

“I’ve been playing overseas quite a bit, and I’ve been playing really nice golf for the last little while. It’s great to come home, take a bit of time off, refresh, and be able to use a good tournament on a great golf course as preparation before I head back overseas.

“I made very few errors and kept the ball in the right places. I think I hit 17 out of 18 greens, I took my medicine when I needed to and putted really well.

“It was the sort of round where it felt really stress-free in quite a stressful environment,” Hendry laughs.

16 players shot even-par or better during the opening round of the tournament.