If New Plymouth local Brad Hayward had any nerves chasing his first Charles Tour title then it certainly didn’t show in today’s third round of the Taranaki Energy Open at the Ngamotu links.



The 21-year-old amateur, who opened with rounds of 65 and 69 for a 10 under par total, carded a superb eight under par 64 on moving day to earn a three shot lead from Auckland professional Fraser Wilkin.


Taupo professional Troy Ropiha, who is a two-time champion at his old home track, carded an up and down three under par 69 to be four shots back while Waikato amateur Luke Toomey (69), Grant Moorhead (69) and Mark Purser (71) are nine shots off the lead in a share of fourth place.


Former European Tour professional Mark Brown is tied seventh on a seven under par total, 11 shots back from the leader.


Hayward, who won the leading amateur honours two years ago here, completed a round of six birdies and an eagle – a hole-out on the par 5 10thfrom 104m with a gap wedge– to be the man to beat heading into the final round.


He will look to become only the sixth amateur to win on the Charles Tour after Josh Geary, Ropiha, Ben Campbell, Joshua Munn and Wilkin.


“It would be awesome to add my name to the list of amateur winners on the Charles Tour,” said Hayward in his post-round interview in between congratulations from his club-mates.


“It would be a great achievement for myself and to win at home would make it even more special.”


Hayward got off to a blistering start. He was four under par through the opening five holes after he birdied holes two through five. He made the turn in four under 32 before he added the shot of the day on the par 5 10th


“I holed my approach on 10 for eagle which was pretty lucky but I will take it. I hit a gap wedge from around 104m and it bounced once and went straight into the cup. That was pretty cool.”


After that high, Hayward was unflappable coming home finishing off his round with a birdie on 15 and at the par five 18thto sign for a 64.


“There weren’t too many nerves. Playing with Troy helped. I have played with him a number of times so it felt like we were just heading out for a hit. I got a bit nervous coming down the stretch but that is alright, nerves are good.”


He said he will get out for dinner tonight to take his mind off the final round and will form a game plan when he sees the conditions. He will look to build on his three shot lead.


“It all depends on what other people are doing through the turn but I can’t control what other people are going to do. I will focus on what I am doing and we’ll see what happens.”


Wilkin was impressed by his playing partner’s round in the wet but warm conditions.


“It was raining today but it still wasn’t too windy which is usually the defence of this golf course but I think the scoring is out there – you know Brad shot lights out today – and a good score will probably be out there tomorrow too,” he said.


The final group had the best total– 16 under par between Hayward, Wilkin and Ropiha – of all groups on course and Wilkin said it was fun golf to be part of.


“I think we were all fired up. We were stuck into our routines and pretty focused to play some good golf.”


The former NZ rep, who won the 2012 Muriwai Open as an amateur, carded his third successive round of five under par 67 to be on a 15 under par total and in contention for his second Charles Tour win. 


“I had no mistakes today which was pleasing,” said the 24-year-old professional from Royal Auckland.


“I think the last couple of days I have had seven dropped shots which was frustrating but today I didn’t make any bogeys so it was more enjoyable. It is exciting to be back into contention to win another four round tournament and

I am looking forward to tomorrow.”





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