Golf: Blizard's birdie blitz gives him edge

By Daniel Richardson of APNZ in Queenstown

Rohan Blizard of Australia tees off during day three of the New Zealand PGA Championship. Photo / Getty Images.
Rohan Blizard of Australia tees off during day three of the New Zealand PGA Championship. Photo / Getty Images.

Until today Rohan Blizard had never led a professional golf tournament heading in to the final round.

But the Australian can add that to his CV as he holds a slender advantage after three rounds of the NZ PGA Championship at The Hills heading in to tomorrow's final 18 holes.

Blizard's birdie blitz saw him fire a six-under 66 at the Arrowtown course today as he went to 15-under for the tournament, one stroke ahead of defending champion Michael Hendry.

Blizard, who won last year's WA Open Championship in Perth, said although holding a final-round lead was a foreign concept to him there was no other position he would prefer to be in.

"Rather be one ahead than one behind I guess,'' he said.

"I don't mind having the lead - I'll go out there and just try to keep to my game plan and have fun. I've had fun for the first three days - had a great playing partner today with the amateur and we just tried to make as many birdies as we could.''

Blizard birdied the first two holes, which just set him on a roll.

"I actually got a bit lucky on the first hole. I didn't hit the best drive, kind of pulled it a little bit left and it just sat up short of the long grass. Luckily enough I had a good lie and had an opportunity to go for the green and hit in the greenside trap and got up and down. So it could have gone either way on the first hole. I ended up making birdie then on the second I hit a good drive down the middle, hit a good approach shot and made another birdie so I got off to a good start today.

"Yeah that settled me down really well.

I wasn't nervous or anxious or anything on the first couple of holes but I think if you start well it just gives you that confidence for the rest of the day.''

Blizard, 28, said he was due to put in a good performance.

"I've been playing pretty consistently on the tier-two events. I finished around 10th place and fourth in one so the form's been there I just have to put four rounds together this week.''

Australian Scott Strange is in third place at 13-under for the tournament, while Leigh Deagan is in fourth at 12-under.

Lower Hutt's Gareth Paddison and Chinese 17-year-old Li Haotong have a share of fifth place at 11-under heading in to the final round, while there's a bevvy of players at 10-under, including Kiwis Greg Turner and Mathew Perry.

The tournament moved in to it's pro-am format today and Kiwi Michael Long and amateur playing partner Chris Hunter lead the team standings at 11-under.

Australian professional Jason Norris and amateur Kevin Lewis are in a share of second place alongside Daniel Nisbet and Les Richardson (amateur) at 10-under.

- APNZ

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