By Matt Brown in Queenstown

A trio of Kiwis are in contention heading into the final round of the New Zealand Golf Open at Millbrook near Queenstown.

2017 champion Michael Hendry and Wairarapa's Harry Bateman are in a tie for sixth on 11-under par, four shots off the lead held by Australian Lucas Herbert and Korean Joohyung Kim. Another Kiwi, Kieran Muir, is at 10-under.

Herbert and Kim lead by a shot from Aussie Brad Kennedy after he birdied the last two holes to rocket into contention. American Chan Kim and Aussie Nick Flanagan sit three shots back from the lead.


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In stark contrast to the first two rounds, conditions were benign and the scoring reflected that.

Herbert may well be the favourite to win his second tournament of the year after already capturing one of the biggest tournaments on the European Tour this season.

The 24-year-old won the Dubai Desert Classic in a playoff on Australia Day in January for his first win as a professional, after coming from six shots back in the final round.

The world number 82 carded a six-under 65 and will be in the marquee final round pairing with 17-year old rising star Kim, who carded a four-under 67. Kim led the first two rounds outright and missed an easy birdie putt on the par-five 17th that would have seen him retain the outright lead.

Herbert, buoyed by his stunning success in Dubai last month, says he's confident going into the final round.

"I don't think I have ever been as ready as I am right now to go and do it. The win in Dubai will really help me out given I haven't done it before," Herbert said.

"The New Zealand Open is a great event too. I have always enjoyed coming down here to Queenstown, it's just a phenomenal place, probably one of my favourites in the world and the Ferg burgers are unbelievable. They have been fuelling me all week."


Former champ Hendry is in the reckoning after an up-and-down round that leaves him in a tie for sixth with fellow Kiwi Bateman and Japan's Ryosuke Kinoshita.

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Hendry carded a four-under 67, a round that included an eagle and five birdies as well as a double bogey and a bogey.

Hendry says he is happy to be four back heading into the final round.

"I think I probably would have," he said when asked if he would've taken this position at the start of the week. "The beauty of being three or four back is you don't feel as much pressure as the other guys. I don't care how experienced you are, you are going to feel pressure or nerves when you go into the final round with the lead or one behind.

"So it gives me the opportunity to go out there and play my game and hopefully I can hit the ball like I did on the back nine rather than the front nine and put some pressure on the leaders."

Hendry is also counting on his experience of winning the title in 2017 making a difference in the final round.

"When you have been in pressure moments before you handle them better than the next guy. I'm not saying these guys haven't been in that scenario, there's a pretty good leaderboard there. But it's just a matter of going about my business and hitting good shots and we will see how we end up at the end of the week."

Bateman is also four shots back and in contention but felt like he barely held on today.

"It was pretty scrappy today and didn't feel like I had my best stuff," Bateman said. "But I had [a few] six- or seven-foot par putts and I made them all which kept me going and then had a miracle putt [for eagle] on 17, an impossible putt but it went in so that was great."