Aust golfer Kennedy clinches NZ Open crown

Queensland golfer Brad Kennedy has won his second New Zealand Open title, charging past compatriot Lucas Herbert on the final day to add to his 2011 triumph.

BRAD KENNEDY of Australia tees off during Golf Open at Millbrook Resort in Queenstown, New Zealand.
BRAD KENNEDY of Australia tees off during Golf Open at Millbrook Resort in Queenstown, New Zealand. Picture: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Australian veteran Brad Kennedy has continued his love affair with golf tournaments on Kiwi soil, winning the New Zealand Open by two shots from compatriot Lucas Herbert in a gripping finish.

Queenslander Kennedy closed with a faultless eight-under 63 at Millbrook Resort near Queenstown, the equal-lowest round of the tournament.

His 21-under tally followed his victory in the same tournament in 2011, when he headed off Australian Craig Parry in a play-off in Christchurch.

Three of 45-year-old Kennedy's five Australasian PGA Tour titles have been claimed in New Zealand, having also won the NZ PGA Championship four years ago.

Overnight co-leader Herbert, who'd won the Dubai Desert Classic in January, needed a birdie on the par-three final hole to force a play-off but sent his tee-shot into the water and he finished second after a 67.

An earlier splash landing, on the par-five 13th hole, cost Lucas the lead when he carded a double bogey.

It happened during the midst of a string of three birdies midway through the back nine for Kennedy and the world No.135 held 82nd-ranked Victorian Herbert at bay.

It was a sweet result for Kennedy, who had recorded seven top-10 finishes at his 11 appearances without clinching a win.

The most painful of those results were back-to-back third placings last month at the Queensland PGA Championship and Queensland Open.

"I was going through a lot of emotion out there today. I've been close the last two events and felt as though I let them slip," Kennedy told Sky TV.

"Today I was chasing. I knew the course was playing at it's best and it would take something special to chase down Lucas.

"I just gutsed it out and played within my game as much as I could and just let my putts do the talking.

"I'm so relieved. To win this again after nine years is just unbelievable."

The world No.135 becomes first two-time winner since Kiwi Greg Turner claimed a second title in 1997.

Australians have now claimed New Zealand's biggest golf prize in eight of the last nine years.

New South Welshman Nick Flanagan carded 66 to finish two back from Herbert in third.

Korean 17-year-old Joohyung Kim, who had led through each of the first three rounds, was alone in fourth a further shot back.


AAP