New Zealander Ben Campbell and Australian Deyen Lawson are tied for the Horizon Golf NZ PGA Championship lead after three rounds at Manawatu Golf Club.
Ben Campbell was a clear home crowd favourite as he fired 4-under 67 in the third round thanks to five birdies and a bogey on the front-9 while he parred his way into the clubhouse.
Despite the solid score and the support, it was a frustrating day on the greens for the Kiwi who felt he left plenty of shots on the course.
“I really struggled reading the greens out there today. I had a lot that looked dead straight and it was just figuring out if they were breaking a little bit left or a little bit right. Just about every one I got wrong so I feel like I've left a lot out there today,” said Campbell.
“There were definitely a few people out there and tomorrow I know there are a few more people coming over so it's always good to get the home crowd support.”
Playing in the same group as Campbell, Lawson was aware of the crowd’s favouritism but was unperturbed as he fired 7-under 64 with his girlfriend and fellow PGA Professional Alexandra Orchard on the bag.
“I'm non-existent out there with the crowd but Ali claps me every now and then,” said Lawson with a wry smile.
“They enjoy Ben. I nearly holed one on 16 and didn't get much, then Ben hit one into about 10 feet. And the crowd went wild.
“But that's just how it is, I'll just go out and do my thing and hopefully it's good enough tomorrow,” added Lawson, whose round featured 10 birdies, the pick of the bunch coming on the 17th hole.
“The birdie I made on 17; I was in a spot that wasn't that great, the ball was way above my feet in the rough, I had to hit a hard wedge.
“I wasn't too sure about it but Ali was fortunate enough to kick me into gear and said just hit it on close and roll the putt in. Sure enough I did.”
However if either Campbell or Lawson hope to secure their first victory on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia they will need to overcome Matt Millar, the reigning New Zealand Masters champion and 2015 New Zealand PGA champion.
The New Zealand specialist fired 6-under 65 today to be just one shot back of the leading pair.
“I do like playing in New Zealand, particularly this style of golf course where it's not really that long but there's a bit of a run on the ground and you've got to be pretty accurate. It's my style of course,” said Millar.
“My first win was the New Zealand PGA at Remuera. I still look at the picture frame at home, it brings back great memories. It's always good to come back and play well in this event.”
At 13-under the card, Queenslander Anthony Quayle is outright fourth after he fired 6-under 65.
Rounding out the top-5 on the leaderboard are New Zealander David Smail and Tasmanian Simon Hawkes who gave up the overnight lead with a 1-over 72 today.
The final round of the Horizon Golf NZ PGA Championship tees off at 9.20am with the final group of Lawson, Campbell and Millar on course at 11am.
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