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Murray stumbles but still leads NZ golf

Australian golfer Zach Murray has closed with two birdies to reclaim a one-shot lead going into the final round of the New Zealand Open.

Murray stumbles but still leads NZ golf

Australian golfer Zach Murray has closed with two birdies to reclaim a one-shot lead going into the final round of the New Zealand Open.

ZACH MURRAY of Australia in action during the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore.
ZACH MURRAY of Australia in action during the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore. Picture:Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images

Zach Murray's five-stroke lead has evaporated to one shot at the New Zealand Open but the Australian golfer believes he's in the right mental space to claim a maiden professional crown.

Victorian Murray birdied the final two holes of Saturday's third round at The Hills course near Queenstown to reclaim the lead on 17 under par and set him up for a possible wire-to-wire win.


He had ceded top spot late in the afternoon to New Zealand's Josh Geary, who fired eight birdies and an eagle in a sizzling nine-under 63.

That was enough to spur Murray's strong finish to a patchy round of 70, which lacked the precision of his earlier 63 and 65.

A snaking putt on the 18th hole for birdie put the Wodonga 21-year-old back in front and left him feeling momentum was still on his side.

"It was good to be a couple back going into those last few holes because it helped me get back that aggressive mindset," Murray said.

"I was battling my way through and felt a little frustrated but I just calmed down and finished nice. I'll definitely take a one-shot lead and I'm really excited. Tomorrow should be fun."

Murray's putting was astray in the first half of his round, losing ground to his rivals on a day of low scoring.

Japanese pair Kodai Ichihara and Ryuko Tokimatsu share third place alongside Kiwi Harry Bateman, two strokes behind Geary.

A handful of Australians remains in contention, with Aaron Pike and Dimitrius Papadatos sharing sixth on 13 under, one stroke clear of former champions Brad Kennedy and Matthew Griffin.

Murray will find it hard to shake off Geary on Sunday, with the 34-year-old desperate to make it a home-town win in the 100th edition of the tournament.

"Obviously, the home Open is the subject of dreams," said Geary, playing his first tournament of the year.

"I was watching it as a kid and I wouldn't have believed I'd play in one, let alone lead it or possibly win it.

"This would be a huge one off the bucket list."

AAP


AAP




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