Campbell leads way after topsy-turvey day

It proved a day of bungy-like proportions in the town that invented the adventure phenomenon which sees Kiwi Ben Campbell take a one-shot lead into the final round of the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open near Queenstown.

The 25 year old has the opportunity to become the first Kiwi to hold the Brodie Breeze Trophy since Mahal Pearce in 2003.

Ben Campbell closes out with par on the 18th – Photo:

Campbell will need to negotiate a circling school of Australians going in to tomorrow’s final round at the Millbrook Resort in Arrowtown.

There were three different leaders throughout the day including two former winners from across the Tasman, the 2014 champion Dimitrios Papadatos and 2011 titleholder Brad Kennedy.

A birdie on the 16th and eagle on the 17th saw Campbell spring from the pack to a five-under par 66 and the lead on 20-under.

“I didn’t have my A Game today but managed to get a good score on the board. I have talked to my coach about doing ugly well,” Campbell said. “My caddy told me to be patient and be patient. I holed some good par putts to keep the momentum going and went for it on 17 with that eagle.”

Can he dare to dream about etching his name on the winner’s trophy?

“There is a lot of golf to be played and it could be bad weather. I have to stay patient. Something can happen on a course like this. But I will hit the ball, go and find it and hopefully hole some putts.”

Michael Hendry celebrates one of his two eagles late in his third round of the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open at Millbrook Resort near Queenstown today. Photo:

Kennedy, who was around the lead all day, mixed five birdies with two bogeys in his three-under 68 to be one shot behind the Kiwi.

“It was one of those days when I felt I was in control for most of the day. It is the first time we have seen pins here on a Saturday and there were a couple of tough ones today. It was a positive day and I can start chasing now,” Kennedy said.

“There are some guys behind who can shoot low so I know I need to play well, stay aggressive and do my best to chase down Ben who holed everything today.”

Papadatos fired seven birdies and a bogey to push into the lead before he hit into the water on the challenging par-3 final hole to finish on 66 and a share of third place on 17-under.

“I have already won one tournament this year, at the Victorian Open, so there is no reason why I can’t make it two,” he said.

He shares third place with New Zealand’s Michael Hendry, who had the most remarkable, if nerve-wracking of days. 

The professional on the Japan Tour had five birdies mixed with three dropped shots and a double bogey that saw him drift back to ninth place. The Kiwi then produced two stunning back-to-back eagles at the par-4 16th and par-5 17th to jump to a four-under 68 and 17-under with Papadatos.

“It was pretty ordinary, to be honest. I just kept telling myself to stay patient and hopefully I’d capitalise on some opportunities coming in, and I did,” Hendry said.

He said he was troubled by a back injury that has plagued him lately and found the slow play frustrating.

“I just tried to stay patient and not get too down on myself. Golf is a hard enough game at the best of times – there’s a field of 70 guys trying to beat you, there’s no point trying to make it 71.”

Australian James Nitties enjoyed six birdies with one dropped shot in his five-under 66 to lie in fifth place alone on 16-under.

Three players are in a share of sixth place led by defending champion Matt Griffin, who fired a five-under par 66, compatriot Deyen Lawson and Korean teenager Sung-Jae Im.

There is a bevy of four players sharing ninth place on 13-nder par led by New Zealand’s Ryan Fox with the day’s low score with eight birdies without blemish in his 63. He shares that spot with Australians Andrew Evans and Andrew Dodt and Korean Young-Han Song.

Earlier, Fox set the standard with his remarkable 63, re-finding his touch on the greens today.

“I saw a lot of 10 and 12 footers go in today that haven’t gone in the previous five or six tournaments and it’s nice to be back in the tournament,” Fox said.

With veteran caddie Steve Williams on his bag for the first time in Queenstown this week, Fox said an attitude adjustment had helped to warm up his putter.

“I don’t know what (the change) was, probably just mentality, just let go of the outcome and not worry about it. I think we read the greens well the first couple of days, I just struggled to start it on line and today I managed to start it on line and my speed was probably a little better as well.”

Kiwi professional Josh Geary also emerged as a contender with a barrage of birdies mixed with two dropped shots that saw him move to 14-under par for the tournament. However he three-putted for a par on the 17th and then doubled the final hole to drop back to a share of 13th place.

Conditions today remained clear but cooler with some precipitation in the forecast for tomorrow.

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