Lucas Herbert is within reach of a second professional title in the space of two months after a stunning 6-under par third round at the 101st New Zealand Open presented by Sky Sport.
The 24-year-old Victorian sits tied for the lead at -15 alongside Korea’s Joohyung Kim with just 18 holes to play at Millbrook Resort following a round of seven birdies and a lone bogey at the challenging par-5 13th.
A lead-securing birdie from Herbert at 17 was quickly matched by Kim on the 18th to tie the lead through 54 holes.
“I started off quite nicely and got that little three-birdie run through the middle and got myself in a nice position but then straight after that I felt like I really battled my golf swing for a few holes and hit some errant ones,” Herbert said.
“To fight back like I did and make some really good swings sort of 15, 16, 17 and even 18 there to hit it in the middle of the green, I was really proud of that because I think we’ve got a bit of work to do on the range to get ready for tomorrow.”
Regaining equal lead with @joohyungkim0621, @lhgolf5 was able to hole this birdie on the 14th after a maiden bogey for the day on the previous hole— PGA of Australia (@PGAofAustralia) February 29, 2020
Tune in to all the action from Millbrook & The Hills on @FOXSportsAUS and @kayosports#PGATA @NZOpenGolf pic.twitter.com/AJSnNFJlvX
Fuelled by Queenstown’s famous Fergburgers the Bendigo local will draw on the confidence gained following January’s European Tour win when he takes to the first tee at 12:30pm NZT on Sunday.
“Tomorrow is going to be a different story. I don’t think I’ve ever been as ready as I am right now to go and do it. I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
“I think that win in Dubai is really going to help me out given I hadn’t done it before. That gives me that confidence that I can get it over the line and beat everyone.
“I’ll just try and channel that tomorrow. Some good positive thoughts from a month ago about that and whatever happens, happens.”
Keenly aware of the talent surrounding the top of the leaderboard, round one and two leader Kim will adopt an aggressive approach as he aims to go low on Sunday.
“I played really well today. I played well off the tee and my approach to the green but I did leave a lot of shots out there on the greens to be honest,” Kim said.
“You can’t have all day that it goes your way. I am still in the hunt. I have myself a really good chance for tomorrow. It’s is going to be fun to be honest.
“Playing with Lucas is going to be really enjoyable. Obviously he is a European Tour winner so it is going to be where ever it goes, whether I win or lose tomorrow I am going to enjoy myself and give it everything.”
Another stunning approach from @joohyungkim0621. He currently sits 1-behind the leader @lhgolf5, but could even things up with this putt— PGA of Australia (@PGAofAustralia) February 29, 2020
Tune in to all the action from Millbrook & The Hills on @FOXSportsAUS and @kayosports#PGATA @NZOpenGolf pic.twitter.com/Om8zag7h10
With loved ones in town for the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and Asian Tour co-sanctioned tournament a win close to home would tick yet another career box for Herbert.
“Given that family and friends are all here this week too that would be awesome. My dad hasn’t seen me win yet so that would be pretty cool,” Herbert said.
“To get a win on the Australian Tour, as much as it’s not in Australia it would be good to prove back home that I can play as well as overseas.”
Queensland’s Brad Kennedy remains in the hunt for a second New Zealand Open title following a 5-under 66 third round at Millbrook Resort to sit in outright third place and two shots off the lead.
American Chan Kim and Novocastrian Nick Flanagan are tied three shots back at 12-under the card in fourth place.
The shot of the day, however, came from South Australia’s Wade Ormsby on the 17th when his approach shot found its way into the hole for eagle.
Take a bow @wadeormsby!!! Surely the shot of the day with this long-range eagle!— PGA of Australia (@PGAofAustralia) February 29, 2020
Tune in to all the action from Millbrook & The Hills on @FOXSportsAUS and @kayosports#PGATA @NZOpenGolf pic.twitter.com/DLYhhQJnTY
Entry is free for the final round of the 101st New Zealand Open presented by Sky Sport which will tee off at Millbrook Resort tomorrow.