Finch flies in to NZ Open lead
BY iseekgolf.com | Australasian PGA Tour | 2007 New Zealand Open | Round Three | 01 Dec 2007
Course record-breaker Peter Fowler provided the early highlights but it was England’s Richard Finch atop the leaderboard as play came to a close on Saturday afternoon at the Michael Hill New Zealand Open.
Finch, who co-held the record of 65 with Aussie Steven Bowditch on Friday before Fowler’s incredible 10-under 62, took full advantage of a horrific slip-up by Bowditch to jump into first place.
Finch is a shot ahead of Bowditch and two clear of Fowler thanks to seven birdies in his third round, pushing him up to 12-under for the tournament.
Leading at 11-under early on, Bowditch’s eight at the par-five ninth cost him dearly and stalled any momentum from the first two rounds.
Finding a brutal patch of long tussock grass off the tee, he was forced to drop and took the gamble of another wood out of the rough. It didn’t pay off, landing him in a buried lie in a greenside bunker before taking two blasts to get out and finally recording a triple-bogey.
However, his mood improved with three straight birdies from the 12th to the 14th to move back into red numbers for the day.
A Friday night dip in Lake Wakatipu cooled Fowler’s heel after dropping five strokes in three holes late in the day, and he came out suitably refreshed on Saturday.
Recording eight birdies and an eagle at the par-five 13th, Fowler broke the course record by three shots and actually held the lead at one stage despite starting the day in a tie for 41st at even-par.
His round was the lowest of his professional career and also equalled the New Zealand Open scoring record held by fellow Aussies Rodger Davis and Paul Gow.
His round outshone three fine efforts from Englishman Robert Dinwiddie and Aussies Matthew Zions and Ewan Porter, who all carded six-under 66’s.
Porter holds fourth on his own, Dinwiddie is in a tie for ninth while Zions is equal 12th. There were also four 67’s carded by Scott Gardiner, Aaron Townsend, Adam Bland and Alexander Noren.
In fifth is a trio of golfers – Welshman Kyron Sullivan and Australians Rick Kulacz and Paul Sheehan. Sheehan would be disappointed to be on that mark as he is yet to record a birdie in ideal scoring conditions and is two-over for his round.
Michael Long is no longer alone as the leading Kiwi and is joined by Mahal Pearce on six-under after shooting a three-under 69. Long is a disappointing two-over for his round with four bogies and two birdies.
Sir Bob Charles, who became the oldest player on a major worldwide tour to make the cut at 71 years and 261 days, was in no mood to settle for that to be the crowning glory of his week.
Parring the first two holes on Saturday, he birdied the par-four third and then nailed his tee shot on the par-three fourth to four feet and duly sunk the putt.
Unfortunately he could only manage one further birdie for his round and eventually signed for a one-under 71, the second time he has matched or bettered his age in two days.
One of the pre-tournament favourites, Kiwi Michael Campbell, is not in action on the weekend after missing the cut with rounds of 73 and 76, instead spending time doing television commentary work.
Source – PGA Tour