Former Champion on fire

Australian Matthew Griffin has forced the pace during the third round at the 100th New Zealand Open as the field sets about hauling in overnight leader Zach Murray at The Hills.

Under blue skies in Queenstown, Griffin, who won the 2016 New Zealand Open with a birdie on the final hole, compiled a seven-under 65 which lifted him to 10-under for the tournament.

“I’ve been playing well the last month and on the first two days I wasted a few shots but felt if I could hit it alright today – and with The Hills if you play well it rewards you – there was always a chance of a good score. I like this place too. It seems to agree with me,” Griffin said.

Matthew Griffin birdies the 18th hole from the bunker during 100th New Zealand Open Round 3. The Hills, Arrowtown. New Zealand. Photo:

“Conditions were perfect. The greens are nice and firm and just no wind. If you play well today then you will give yourself lots of chances. When you make the cut on the number you know you can have a real crack with not too much to lose. I got off to a flyer – you know the leader is likely to keep going forward so I wanted to catch up a little bit.”

Griffin believes the frontrunners will be hard to catch on Sunday.

“Where the leaders are I think they will go further away so I would need something special again tomorrow but at least I have given myself half a chance. To win this tournament again especially the 100th New Zealand Open, would be so special.”

Japanese players Kodai Ichihara and Rikuya Hoshino were also on the hunt, Ichihara producing birdies from five of his first six holes and Hoshino going nine-under.

Murray had an early wobble, going birdie-bogey-birdie over his first three holes as he sets about trying to add to the WA Open title he won last year.

Ryan Fox has also made a strong start to moving day and fellow New Zealander Josh Geary added his name to the conversation with five birdies on the front nine.

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