Cullen's stunning 65 gives QLD Open lead
BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2013 Isuzu Queensland Open | Round Three | 24 Aug 2013
On a day when scores improved significantly on those of the opening two days at the Queensland Open at Brookwater Golf Club, South Australian Nick Cullen’s third round of 65 eclipsed the previous best this week by two shots and gave the left hander a one shot lead over Peter O’Malley with a further shot back to New Zealander Ryan Fox.
Clint Rice is at 2 under and alone in 4th position while well credentialed New South Welshman Andre Stolz is the only other player under par and is five shots from the lead.
Cullen started the third round nearly an hour ahead of and three shots behind the final group of Lee Jun Seok, Josh Younger and New Zealander Pieter Zwart, but with five birdies in his first ten holes, Cullen had moved within one shot of O’Malley.
Cullen would add two more birdies including one at the last and the man who has quietly built a reputation and improved his standing in Australasian golf in the past two years had a comfortable lead.
Over the next hour or so he would see O’Malley, who had faltered in the middle of his round, close quickly but Cullen knows how to win including a victory on the OneAsia Tour eighteen months ago where the first prize was some ten times what he will earn tomorrow should he win.
For O’Malley it was a round of two halves, four birdies in his first six holes and he appeared to be well in control but just as he had yesterday he would stumble in the middle of his round. Yesterday it was a double bogey at the 13th which brought him unstuck and today it was four dropped shots in the opening two holes of his final nine.
Then O’Malley recovered with a brilliant stretch of four consecutive birdies to finish his round. He had clawed his way back from five behind Cullen to finish just one back and, with his experience at this level and much higher, he looms as Cullen’s biggest although perhaps not only threat.
Fox is considered by many a fine prospect amongst New Zealand’s emerging golfers. He has been a professional only two years or so but has twice been 4th at this level of event and has won several smaller four round events. He is not without a chance tomorrow and neither are one or two others who are close enough if good enough.
Clint Rice finished runner-up at the Queensland PGA Championship in Toowoomba a few years ago and has played the Canadian Tour in many of his recent years as a professional.
The man who might yet prove the one to watch on day four is the former PGA Tour event winner, Andre Stolz. Stolz took several years away from the game not long after winning the PGA Tour event in Las Vegas in the mid 2000’s. He returned to the game three or four years later and has been successful on the OneAsia Tour and in lesser events at this level since.
Australian Amateur Champion and recent recruit to the professional ranks, Cameron Smith, and Victorian Ryan Lynch are at even par and are just one good round away from a significant victory. Just how good that round needs to be is a point for discussion but anybody further back appears to have set themselves too much to do.
So the winner is likely to come down to the those five players under par. It will take something very special from anyone at even par or further back not only because of the demands of the Brookwater layout but because of the quality of those players ahead of them.
The final day of the rebirth of the Queensland Open is nicely poised for a great battle between one of the more impressive younger players in Australia in Cullen, one of New Zealand’s most promising and the relative veterans in O’Malley and Stolz.
It is shaping as a great final day battle.