Date: April 19, 2007
Author: Alistair Hogg

Gill leads NZ Amateur, Arnold best Aussie

By Alistair Hogg Kiwi James Gill leads the New Zealand Amateur Championship at his home club of Hamilton going into today&aposs final round. A third round 66 propelled the 21-year old into the outright lead, one ahead of Tauranga&aposs Kevin Smith. Gill&aposs equal tournament best round was set up by superb driving as he only missed one fairway on his way to a superb six-under. The Kiwi was four-under through nine and five-under through 10 before a string of pars helped him maintain his lead. Another birdie followed on 17 with a confident six-metre downhill putt before an up-and-down par save on the final hole guaranteed him the clubhouse lead. Smith has been somewhat of an unexpected addition to the top of the leader board. However the New Zealander has proven his worth by shooting three consistent rounds of 69 to find himself at nine-under with just 18 holes to play. It took him a while to find his rhythm as bogeys on three and four prevented his climb up the leaderboard. But Smith regrouped and went five-under through the final 11 holes to give himself a genuine chance of winning the event. Waikato&aposs Jim Cusdin is third, rounding out a Kiwi trifecta heading into the final round. Jamie Arnold is the best-placed Australian in equal-fourth at five-under, five strokes behind the leader. He is joined by Kiwi pair Troy Ropiha and Blair Shaw. The New South Welshman also helped his state to the O&aposRorke Challenge Vase which is presented to a group of three players representing the same club or association after the first 36-holes of stroke play. Arnold was successful in claiming the honour along with New South Wales and Australian National Squad team mates Rohan Blizard and Tim Stewart. The trio&aposs 36-hole score of seven-under 425 was enough to win the Vase. The top 32 players after today&aposs final round qualify for the national match play championships which runs from Friday through to the 36-hole final on Sunday. Click here for a full leader board after the third round