Golf: Wilkin on the bubble in England

Auckland golfer Fraser Wilkin is right on the bubble as he tries to advance to the second stage of qualifying for the European Tour.

The former New Zealand rep has carded rounds of 77, 71 and 76 at Wychwood Park in Crewe, England this week to be in a share of 23rd place heading into the final round.

Wilkin, a two-time winner on the Charles Tour, needs to finish inside the top 22 players and ties to advance from Section B of the first stage.

The 25-year-old, who works at Royal Auckland Golf Club, is looking to join Michael Campbell as the only other Kiwi on the European Tour.

Campbell was granted life time membership to the tour when he claimed the US Open at Pinehurst in 2005.

Meanwhile, New Zealand No 1 Michael Hendry has got off to another good start on the Japan Golf Tour.

The 33-year-old North Harbour professional, who is currently 44th on the money-list in his debut season, has opened the Ana Open with a three-under par 69 at the Sapporo Golf Club overnight (Fri) to be in a share of 15th place.

The two-time New Zealand PGA Champion will begin round two four shots back from Japanese pro Shingo Katayama who opened with a seven-under par 65.

Hendry has been impressive in his first year in Japan. He has recorded two top-10 finishes and has made the cut nine times from 11 events.

He is the highest ranked New Zealander golfer on the Official World Golf Rankings at 192 and will represent New Zealand at the US$7 million World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne in November.

Fellow Kiwi David Smail has begun well as he looks to turn his season around.

The Hamilton pro, who has played on the Japan Tour for 16 seasons consecutively, a record for a New Zealand professional, opened with a two-under par 70 to be in a share of 26th place.

The former New Zealand Open champion needs a strong finish to the season to keep his card.

He is currently 66th on the money-list and the top-70 players at the end of the year retain their full playing rights for 2014.

In New Caledonia, Wellington professional Nick Gillespie is the best of the Kiwis at the South Pacific Golf Open.

Gillespie shot rounds of 67 and 73 at the Tina Golf Club in Noumea to be in a share of 23rd place in the PGA Tour of Australasia event.

He is 10 shots back from Australian Theodore Coroneo who leads on a 12-under par total.

North Harbour amateur Cameron Jones is two shots back on even par alongside Taihape pro Hamish Robertson.

A host of other Kiwis are off the pace including defending champion Brad Shilton (+2), Ryan Fox (+3), Joshua Carmichael (+6), Pieter Zwart (+10), Luke Toomey (+11), Sven Puymbroeck (+12) and Kieran Muir (+13).

Over in the US, the Web.com Tour Finals Series takes a break this week ahead of the season-ending Web.Com Tour Championship.

Hamilton pro Steven Alker needs a great result to secure his PGA Tour card for 2013-14 while Tim Wilkinson and Danny Lee are currently 30th and 39th on the re-rank heading into the PGA Tour's Fall Series.

Lee (ranked 312 on the Official World Golf Rankings) and Wilkinson (324) are also in a battle for the final spot to represent New Zealand at the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne in November alongside Hendry.

The qualification date for the event concludes on September 29 after the Web.com Tour Championship.

- APNZ

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