02 March, 2019: Australia’s rising star Zach Murray saw his overnight five-shot lead reduced to one after he battled to a third-round two-under-par 70 on a low-scoring Saturday at the 100th New Zealand Open. India’s Shiv Kapur continues to maintain his form with five-under-par 67 in the penultimate round.
Kapur shot three birdies in the front nine and three in the back nine with a lone bogey to close with five-under-par 67 and lying at T17. Other best played Indian in the field Chikkarangappa S, trailing Kapur at T25. Chikka shot seven birdies and three bogeys to finish with four-under-par 68 in the third round.
The 21-year-old rookie Murray let slip of his overnight lead after stumbling with a third bogey of the day on 10. However, he gained a shot on 13 to get to even-par for the day and surmounted a late challenge by rallying back with two closing birdies on 17 and 18.
Murray’s solid drive down the middle of the fairway on the last would set up his 15-foot birdie and helped him regain his place atop the leaderboard with a three-day total of 17-under-par 198 at the NZ$1,250,000 (approx. US$850,000) event.
New Zealander Josh Geary raised the local cheers after matching the day’s lowest round of a 63 to move into second place on his own at the storied event, that is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.
Kodai Ichihara made his move by firing five birdies in his opening six holes but slipped back with a bogey on 12 and a double-bogey on 13. The amiable Japanese recovered brilliantly with three birdies on holes 14, 16 and 17 to settle for a 67 and a share of third place with his 201 total.
Thailand’s Poom Saksansin and Jazz Janewattananond, who leads the current Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings, returned with respective rounds of 66 and 69 to head into the final round seven shots behind Murray in tied-12th position at The Hills.
A total of 152 professionals and 152 amateurs took part in the event where the first two rounds were alternated between the par-71 course at Millbrook Resort and the par-72 course at The Hills. The 62 players, who made the halfway cut on Friday, will compete in the final two rounds at The Hills.