Felton, Fraser top NZ Open leaderboard
BY iseekgolf.com | Australasian PGA Tour | 2006 New Zealand Open | Round Three | 02 Dec 2006
The ferocious afternoon winds blew away the frontrunners to create a log-jam going into tomorrow’s final round of the Blue Chip New Zealand Open at Gulf Harbour.
Australian Marcus Fraser was the only player to tee off in the afternoon to finish in red figures on the brutish coastal conditions to grab a share of the lead.
The 28-year-old shares the lead on five-under par with England’s Graeme Storm and Australian Kim Felton, who enjoyed the comparative calm to make a run to the top of the leaderboard.
Four players share fourth place one shot back on four-under comprising Michael Campbell, Spain’s Carl Suneson and Australians Peter Senior and Peter O’Malley.
There are 19 players within three shots of the lead, and it will be the player who can best survive further strong winds predicted tomorrow who will claim the Brodie Breeze Cup and the $270,000 winner’s cheque.
New Zealand’s hopes rested on Campbell, the 2005 US Open champion who drew huge galleries – and finished the day where he started – one shot behind the leader.
It was a day where Campbell could not get anything going, forced to settle for a two-over par 73 in a test of the toughest.
“Those were the toughest conditions I’ve played in for a long time – the wind was either from right to left or left to right,” Campbell said.
“You had to bring your A game and to finish two-over was quite satisfying. There’s a bunch of guys on top of the leaderboard including seasoned campaigners and some young ones so there’s an exciting finish in store.”
“It was frustrating that the putter was completely cold and a lot shaved the hole. But you have to be patient, not despair and keep plugging away.”
The still morning conditions produced some stunning golf, led by Storm who jumped from 50th place to a share of the lead after bagging an eagle and four birdies, including a five-under par outward nine of 30.
The 28-year-old, who is yet to win on the European Tour, got some help from a friend that has helped him today.
“I struggled with the greens all week but Brett Rumford helped me out with it. I was not accelerating through the ball, I was using the shoulders instead of being still,” Storm said.
“The eagle at the second with a 4-iron and 15-foot putt was an early boost because with the wind getting up few would be able to get there in two.
“I didn’t think I would be playing here this week because I pulled my shoulder hitting a shot in Hong Kong. I’ve had physio on it for the last two and half weeks and a doctor in Sydney said I had an impingement to the rotator cuff. There’s no pain now though.”
Fraser defied the odds with a superb display in the tough conditions, mixing three birdies with two bogeys.
The 28-year-old has a close affinity with this country, winning the New Zealand Amateur in 2002 and finishing in a share of 13th place in this event last year.
Fraser, who has won three times in Europe, said he had little idea that the winds were causing havoc.
“I played well on the front nine but I felt I was going backwards when I bogeyed the ninth. But I birdied 10 and 11 and looked at a leaderboard around 13 and saw I was at the top – I was a bit stunned.
“I controlled the ball flight well in the wind and I believe I’m a good wind player. The wind was stronger by 10 to 20 km/h today and there were some interesting pins – the 15th was silly where they had it at the front when there was plenty of room at the back.”
He was among a host of strong morning performances with O’Malley firing a five-under 66 and Felton a three-under 68.
At the other end the joint leaders Wade Ormsby and Nick Dougherty slipped back through the field shooting a five-over 76 and 79 respectively.
Source – NZGA
Photo – PhotoSport