Terry Pilkadaris has conquered ill-health to be on the cusp of a record victory at the New Zealand Golf Open in Arrowtown.

The 44-year-old Australian sits on 24-under par with a five-shot lead heading into the final round at Millbrook Resort.

He drilled a nine-under par 62, including six birdies on the back nine, as he kept countryman Callan O'Reilly at bay.

The record aggregate at the national open is 26-under par, achieved by the late Kel Nagle at Christchurch in 1964.


"I never really got in trouble," Pilkadaris said, as he chases his first title in 13 years.

"It was unbelievable. I was hitting some putts towards the end and they were going in and it was just like 'wow'.

"I just didn't make many mistakes. I think I missed the fifth green, but then chipped in."

The same could not be said for his constitution, which required some nimble thinking on the 13th tee when he needed to paint some porcelain Jackson Pollock-style.

"I got to the 11th hole and my guts weren't going well. By my 13th tee shot I went to people in the house next door and said 'I need a little pitstop'. They said 'you're not the first person to ask that'.

"After I'd finished I said 'thanks for the hospitality… don't go in there for about an hour'.

"I had to swing it easy at the end… I didn't want to go too hard. The medical staff gave me some tablets to calm things down."

Pilkadaris said he would take it easy overnight at his Cardrona base by polishing off a sirloin steak with vegetables doused in a Japanese sauce.

Someone in better physical condition was Kiwi amateur Daniel Hillier.

He ignited and sustained local hopes by unleashing what he agreed was "the round of his life" to reach 16-under par, eight shots adrift.

A birdie on the 153m par-3 18th, in front of a roaring gallery and a proud family, propelled the 19-year-old Wellingtonian to a seven-under par 64.

He sank a 25-foot putt under the amphitheatre's gaze.

"I was nervous over it; it was probably rocking 8-10 feet by, but managed to find the back of the cup."

So was it the performance of his career?

"In the circumstances, yeah. I started a bit slowly, managed to get a few putts to drop halfway through, and kept trucking from there."

Three birdies trumped two bogeys on his opening nine before an eagle on the 460m par-5 10th added momentum.

A bogey on the 11th was swamped by birdies at 12, 13, 16, 17 and 18.

However, Hillier was a Kiwi island in a sea of Aussies.

Another cobber, Nick Flanagan, performed well early after securing a hole-in-one on the 127m par-3 second.

Flanagan paid tribute to still and fine weather for his low-scoring.

"It like playing in a dome; the weather's perfect and the scoring shows that.

The ace was the fifth of his career, but the first at a professional tournament.

"It was a straight forward shot - a wedge down the hill. The ball has been getting to that green quick over the last couple of days.

"I took a bit off the wedge, landed it a foot past the hole and it spun back.

"One of the boys called it two to three seconds beforehand."