Golf: Lee on track for final stage

By Kris Shannon

New Zealand No 1 Danny Lee leads three Kiwis in contention to qualify for next year's PGA Tour, while Michael Campbell has continued his comeback on the European Tour.

Lee, Steven Alker and Tim Wilkinson are on track to reach the final stage of Q-School heading into the fourth rounds of their respective tournaments, giving New Zealand a good chance of having a presence next season on America's top tour.

Campbell, meanwhile, leads the Hong Kong Open at the halfway point following his best round on the European Tour in six years.

Having lost his tour card after failing to finish in the top 125 of this year's PGA Tour, Lee begun in fine fashion in his attempt to immediately win it back.

The 22-year-old fired a three under par 69 in the third round of his second stage qualifying tournament in California to climb to a share of sixth place. He made an eagle, four birdies and three bogeys in a round that took him to a nine under total, trailing leader Si Kim by nine shots.

But winning the tournament is of little concern for Lee - as long as he finishes inside the top 19 and ties he will progress to the final qualifying stage later this month.

The same is true for Alker, also playing at the Bear Creek Golf Club. He shot a five under 67 on moving day to rise to a share of 18th heading into tomorrow's final round.

He will probably need to shoot under par again tomorrow to progress, a scenario shared by compatriot Wilkinson at his tournament in Florida.

The former PGA Tour player sits in a share for 15th after shooting even par in the third round at Panama City. He, too, needs to finish inside the top 19 and ties.

It wasn't all good news for New Zealanders in Q School, however, with Josh Geary bowing out of qualifying after finishing 59th at a qualifying tournament in Texas.

If Lee, Alker and Wilkinson do advance, they will join about 150 other players in a quest for the 25 cards available for the final stage.

Meanwhile, Campbell continued his recent resurgence by storming to the halfway lead at the Hong Kong Open. The 43-year-old fired a six under par 64 in round two to reach a nine under par total and take a one shot advantage into the weekend.

"I'm just happy to be in a position to have a chance for the weekend," he told the European Tour website. "That's why we play the game, that's why I didn't give up."

The former US Open champion appeared back to his best as he made the turn in 30 before making it four birdies in a row on the 10th hole and adding a final birdie at the last.

"There have been times where I wanted to throw it in," he said. "But it doesn't go away, the talent. It's always with you. It never goes away, it just hides now and then. I decided to just keep on working hard and that was it."

In Australia, three Kiwis are in the hunt at the Australian Masters midway through the third round. Michael Hendry slipped back from his overnight position of second, shooting six over through 15 holes to sit in a tie for 10th, but Mark Brown and Gareth Paddison enjoyed more luck.

Brown fired a five under par round to move to fifth, seven shots behind leaders Adam Scott and Ian Poulter, while Paddison shot three under for the day to sit a stroke back.

- APNZ

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