QUEENSTOWN, New Zealand: Korean teenager Joohyung Kim had a crucial birdie to thank as he closed with a four-under-par 67 to head into the final round with a share of the lead with Australia’s Lucas Herbert at the 101st New Zealand Open presented by Sky Sport on Saturday.
Kim looked in danger of relinquishing his lead for the first time this week but calmly sank his putt from 10 feet on the par-three 18th to sign for a three-day total of 15-under-par 199 at the Millbrook Resort.
Herbert made one of the biggest moves of the day, having trailed Kim by six shots when he stepped up to the opening tee.
The 24-year-old, who won the Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour last month, stormed to the top of the leaderboard with three birdies in his final five holes.
2011 New Zealand Open champion Brad Kennedy of Australia closed strongly with back-to-back birdies to trail the pair by two shots in outright third place while American Chan Kim, a former member of the Asian Tour who topped the class at the Asian Tour Qualifying School in 2013, is tied for fourth with Australia’s Nick Flanagan on 202 total.
Thailand’s Pavit Tangkamolprasert signed for a 70 to stay five shots back of the leaders in tied-ninth place with Australia’s Ben Eccles and Kieran Muir.
Like his second Asian Tour win in Sabah last year, the 30-year-old Thai is ready to mount a late fight back, having been in similar situations before where he knows that all is not lost yet.