By Aaron Lawton, Sportal Australian Nathan Green has backed up his fifth-placed finish at the Australian Open and fired the round of the day at the New Zealand Open in Auckland to clinch the title in a thrilling finale by two shots. Teeing off in blustery conditions at the Gulf Harbour Country Club early on the final day, the New South Welshman, who started at one-over par, stormed up the leaderboard with seven birdies on his way to a six-under 65. However, with overnight leaders Kim Felton, Marcus Fraser and Graeme Storm only just underway and well-poised on five-under, Green looked likely to pull up just short. But, late in the afternoon and as the howling breeze continued, all three overnight leaders found the back nine hard to overcome. Despite leading outright for most of the day, Victorian Fraser surrendered his grasp of the title with three bogeys in the last five holes. Felton, meanwhile, after turning on a measured performance through 13 holes, agonisingly dropped off the pace with late bogeys. The day was also a disappointment for Storm, who made headlines early on the third day with an unsurpassed six-under 65. Teeing off last and battling against a difficult wind, the Englishman failed to fire on the back nine as he carded four bogeys and a double bogey on the way to a five-over 76. Also finishing just off the pace was former title winner and one-time US Open champion Michael Campbell. Although just one shot behind the overnight leaders early in the day, the local favourite, who was followed avidly by a faithful gallery, also surrendered his chance to win with two blemishes on the back nine. Speaking moments after bogeying the 18th to finish in a tie for second place, Campbell said he was disappointed not win at home. “It wasn&apost meant to be,” he said. “I played pretty well today, went close a few times and the putts didn&apost drop. “All credit to Nathan Green for playing so well in these conditions.” Meanwhile, Englishman Nick Dougherty, who suffered at the hands of yesterday afternoon&aposs difficult conditions to fall from the leaderboard, managed to turn his form around to card a four-under 67 to move into an eventual tie for second.
Author: Aaron Lawton