Martin Piller of the US shot a four-under-par 68 yesterday to take a one-stroke lead over five others after three rounds of the New Zealand Open.
Piller had a 54-hole total of 12-under 204 on the The Hills course in the tournament sanctioned by the US Nationwide and Australasian PGA tours.
New Zealanders Grant Waite and Josh Geary, both with 68s, Henrik Bjornstad of Norway (68), Alex Prugh of the US (69) and Australian Jason Norris (71) were tied for second.
In a tightly bunched leaderboard, Americans Jim Herman (65), Drew Laning (69) and Jeff Gove (72) were 10 under along with Sweden’s Jonas Blixt (67). Gove and Norris shared the second-round lead.
Piller, 23, turned professional last year and is playing in his fourth Nationwide event.
Phil Mickelson issued a reminder that there is more to golf than Tiger Woods when he opened a two-stroke lead after the second round at the US$8.5 million CA Championship on Friday.
On a day when Woods drifted a distant 10 strokes from the lead in the World Golf Championships event, Mickelson carded a six-under-par 66 in a light breeze at Doral’s Blue Monster.
He posted a 13-under 131 halfway total, with fellow American Nick Watney (67) alone in second place on 11-under and compatriot Kenny Perry (64) and Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy (66) another stroke behind in a tie for third.
Woods, in his first stroke play event since knee surgery last June battled to a mediocre 70.
■PUERTO RICO OPEN
AFP, RIO GRANDE, PUERTO RICO
Australia’s Matt Jones fired four birdies and an eagle in his final eight holes to shoot an eight-under par 64 and match countryman Jason Day for the lead on Friday at the Puerto Rico Open.
Jones, whose best US PGA finishes came last season in a pair of fourth-place efforts, began his second round in the US$3.5 million event on the back nine but came home with a 30 on the front to stand with Day on 10-under 134.
Bart Bryant of the US stood third on 135, saying his second-round 68 was superior to his opening 67.
“I played better today,” Bryant said. “That’s just the way golf is. But I hit the ball today as well as I’ve hit it in a while. I just didn’t get a lot out of it.”