England's Richard Finch leads NZ Open

Updated: 02 December 2007 06:56 IST

England's Richard Finch shot an 8-under-par 64 on Saturday to take a three-stroke lead after three rounds of the New Zealand Open.

England's Richard Finch leads NZ Open

Queenstown, New Zealand:

England's Richard Finch shot an 8-under-par 64 on Saturday to take a three-stroke lead after three rounds of the New Zealand Open.

Finch had nine birdies and one bogey on the par-72 Hills layout to sweep past the overnight leader, Australian Steve Bowditch, who ended the day in second place after a 71.

Finch has a three-round total of 14-under 202.

Australian veteran Peter Fowler, a former New Zealand Open champion, shot a 10-under 62 to move into third place, four strokes back of Finch.

The New Zealand Open is co-sanctioned by the Australasian and European Tours and Finch, 30, has had only one previous top-10 finish in Europe this year.

"This is a new position for me and I am unsure what it will be like because I haven't been there before. But I'll try to stick to my usual routines," he said.

Bowditch held the lead early Saturday at 11-under par but a triple bogey at the par-5 ninth cost him momentum. He eventually recovered his poise and birdied the 12th, 13th and 14th holes.

A late-night swim in icy Lake Wakatipu, the snow-fed jewel of the nearby resort of Queenstown, prepared Fowler for the lowest round of his professional career.

He plunged into the lake to cool his anger after a second-round 75 and showed a cool head on the tee Saturday.

"I swam 100 meters in the lake and that cooled me off a bit," Fowler said.

"It's part of my recovery anyway. I usually have an ice bath so it was probably a little bit easier than sitting in a bathtub."

Fowler's round included eight birdies and an eagle. He set a tough benchmark low round for the Hills course, which is barely a year old and hosting a professional tournament for the first time.

Topics : Golf Martin Kaymer
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