Daniel Pearce storms into the lead at Natadola Bay

Home favourite and course designer Vijay Singh five shots off the pace following a 71

Daniel Pearce of New Zealand during day one of the 2017 Fiji International at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course. Photograph: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Daniel Pearce of New Zealand during day one of the 2017 Fiji International at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course. Photograph: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

 

New Zealand’s Daniel Pearce holds a one-shot lead after the first round of the Fiji International thanks to a brilliant burst of scoring at Natadola Bay.

Pearce began his back nine with an eagle and three straight birdies to open up a three-shot lead before two late bogeys meant he had to settle for an opening six-under-par 66.

Fellow Kiwi Ben Campbell and Australia’s Daniel Valente were Pearce’s nearest challengers on five under, with home favourite and course designer Vijay Singh five shots off the pace following a 71.

“I holed a really nice putt on the first hole for birdie, which got the momentum going in the right direction,” Pearce said. “There was a lot of good golf. I didn’t quite finish it off how I’d like to but I’m pretty happy.

“The putter was pretty hot today so I rolled in a few putts from all over the place, which was nice.”

Campbell reached the turn in 35 after following a birdie on the first with eight straight pars, but his round came to life after the turn with three birdies in a row from the 10th.

A bogey on the 16th briefly halted his progress, only for the 25-year-old to bounce back with an eagle on the 17th to get within a shot of the lead

“It was a solid round,” Campbell said. “I thought anything under par today would be a great score. It wasn’t easy out there, that’s for sure.

“So I’m really happy to get off to that kind of start. I think at most tournaments you’d take a five-under first round anyway.”

Two-time major winner Angel Cabrera and former Masters champion Mike Weir ended the day six shots off the lead after opening rounds of 72.

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