After day three Ben Campbell has moved into the lead at the Gulf Harbour Country Club firing an 8-under 64 to get to 14-under in The Clubroom Gulf Harbour Open, one shot clear of Ryan Fox.
Campbell had consecutive rounds of 3-under in the opening two rounds.
After battling through injury for the better part of a couple of years, it has clearly not played much of a factor this week after Campbell has had hip surgery and a tear in a disc in his back.
Beginning the day off at the first, Campbell got into his work quickly with a birdie at the second to get into red figures early in his round. He made three more birdies at the fifth, sixth, and eighth holes to make the turn at 4-under for the day and catapult himself into contention.
He began the back nine in dominant fashion making a birdie at the 10th, eagle at the 11th, and another birdie at the 12th to take the lead. He bogeyed the 14th but made birdie at the 17th and will enjoy a shot lead over Fox who made bogey on the last.
“I’ve been playing quite well the whole week, but just haven’t quite put it together,” Campbell said after the round.
“I’ve just been pretty rusty. Today I just didn’t make any silly mental mistakes, but the swing is feeling good, the putter is feeling good, it was just nice to put it all together.
“Yesterday I played well. I had five birdies and an eagle and only shot 3- under so it’s nice just to continue on from there.”
Campbell admits it’s been a while in between drinks but is happy that he is in with a chance heading into the final day.
“I don’t think I’ve teed it up since September 2019. I underwent a full hip operation and at the same time also had a tear and a disc in my back. It’s nice to be back out here after a fair while and still know that I can play golf.
“It’s a good feeling knowing I’m in with a chance tomorrow. Obviously, it’s a long way to go. Foxy’s, going to be tough to beat tomorrow.”
Ryan Fox will be looking to capture his first Jennian Homes Charles Tour event since the Autex Muriwai Open back in 2014.
He trails by a shot heading into tomorrow’s final round after his third round of 6-under 66.
Fox made seven birdies today with the only blemish on his card coming at the last to fall out of the lead.
Despite the bogey at the last, he said it was a solid day at the office.
“It was a good day out there today. I only made one mistake up the last but the rest of it was really good,” Fox said.
“I only left a couple out there on the greens today. I definitely had my best day of ball-striking out on the course which bodes well for tomorrow.”
Fox will have a battle on his hands with his ex-New Zealand representative teammate, which he is very much looking forward to.
“It’s great to see BC [Ben Campbell] back playing some good golf. He’s obviously had it pretty tough with injury and we’ve taken slightly different paths because of that. I travelled a lot with him as an amateur so it’s nice to see him back playing well and having a good catch up with him.”
The goal remains the same as it has the whole week for Fox which is getting his name on the trophy.
“Winning was the goal at the start of the week. I’m also just happy to be in contention again and hitting some good shots under a bit of pressure again. That was the reason I wanted to play in these events and it’s great prep for Europe when I can get back,” he explained.
Harry Bateman is a shot further back at 12-under, with local hope James Hydes a further shot back at 11-under par.
Leaderboard Day 3
1 Ben CAMPBELL -14 69 69 64 202
2 Ryan FOX -13 67 70 66 203
3 Harry BATEMAN -12 64 72 68 204
4 James HYDES -11 70 71 64 205
T5 Sam AN -9 72 70 65 207
T5 Josh GEARY -9 69 73 65 207
T5 Samuel JONES -9 72 63 72 207