The Northerly wind picked up at Paraparaumu Beach today and threw the New Zealand Stroke Play Championship title wide open heading into the final round tomorrow.


Four players Malcolm Wells (Fielding), Thomas Brockelsby (Hamilton), Cameron Jones (Muriwai) and Nick Voke (Manukau) hold the lead on a four under par total as the course flashed some of its teeth after two incredibly benign days on the Kapiti Coast.


Manawatu veteran Wells made the most of moving day when he delivered a Tom Watson-esque performance. The 49-year-old, who is 30 years older than most of the players in the field, carded a two under par 69 to climb five places into a share of the lead.  


Jones carded a one over par 72 to match that total with overnight leader Brockelsby (73) and Voke (72) to set up a tense final day.  


New Zealand reps Compton Pikari (70) and Sam An (72) are only one shot back from the leading quarter a share of fifth place while Canterbury rep Jason Yoo climbed 18 places to seventh after a two under par 69.


Meanwhile the overnight co-leader Waikato rep Luke Toomey went the other way. The 22-year-old, who made headlines after a superb six under 65 in round two, fell back to a share of eighth place with an eight over par 79.


The talking point in the clubhouse was the performance of the seasoned amateur Wells.


He laughed at the comparison with American Tom Watson who famously came close to winning the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry at the age of 59.


“Yeah he showed the value of experience on links courses and that it doesn’t matter if it is pretty or ugly it is all about getting it in the hole,” said the course superintendent from the Manawatu Golf Club.


“I know where to miss it around here. You have to make it easy as possible to get up and down if you are going to miss the greens.”


Wells said the course played totally differently in round three.


“It was pretty tricky out there today and I just grinded it out. That is what I do best. I hit fairways and greens and tried to make as many putts as possible.”


Wells said it is a nice surprise to be in the lead, and within one round of claiming the biggest stroke play title in the country, considering his build up was less than ideal.


“I didn’t expect to have a chance to win here at all. I am getting over a rib injury and haven’t played golf for about four weeks so I have just been resting up. I hurt my ribs practicing – that is what happens when you are old like me.

But this is great. These are the moments that you play golf for to be in contention.”


Wells has won one national title – the NZ Mid Amateur in 2000 – and 13 years on claiming the New Zealand Stroke Play title would be something else. 


“It would be a great achievement for me.  At the end of the year I am looking to go across to Japan and try to qualify for the Seniors Tour and this is sort of the preparation for that.”


Meanwhile North Harbour rep Jones, who is coached by the team at the Institute of Golf, wants to follow the success of his famousiGolf team-mates Lydia Ko and Michael Hendry.


“I am inspired by all the guys atiGolf,” said the Muriwai Golf Club member. “It is a great set up there and I love it. I am trying to fill that gap of the elite male amateur. To get some results like Lydia and Mike have enjoyed would be awesome.“


He was not completely satisfied with his round but happy to be right in the hunt. 


“It was a bit rough today.  I am still not entirely happy with how I am hitting the ball but it is nice to be in the position that I am.  I am not feeling too comfortable over the ball but I hope that changes tomorrow and I can get it done a bit more stress free.”


Jones, whose biggest win to date had been the South Island Under 19, said he felt comfortable in the final group and is ready to step up.


“I have never been in the lead heading into the final round before but I have been in the mix a number of times. I have had enough seconds to know that I really want to get across the line. I want to have a good start and build an early lead and then go from there. This would be a great title to win.”





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