Friday, 19 March 2010

(Reuters) - Australian Nathan Green fired a stunning closing round of 65 to win the Blue Chip New Zealand Open by two shots and claim his first European Tour title at the Gulf Harbour Country Club. Starting the day in 39th place following a third round 76, Green registered four birdies in his first five holes and made seven overall to finish on five under par 279 for the tournament.

After such an early tee-time, Green was forced to wait almost three hours as the players round about him at the top of the leaderboard fell victim to the howling Auckland wind.

In another day where the conditions made low scoring a rarity, day three leaders Kim Felton and Marcus Fraser of Australia, as well and England's Graeme Storm, fell off the pace on the treacherous back nine.

After two early birdies, Fraser pulled into the outright lead but consecutive bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes put to rest any aspirations of hoisting the trophy.

Felton, meanwhile, after a composed performance through 13 holes, also struggled late in the day and four bogeys in the last five holes saw him falter short of the finish line.

The conditions also ruined Storm's chance of claiming the title and a dreadful back nine, kick-started when he sent his tee shot well wide of the fairway on the 10th, saw him slide down the leaderboard.

Also falling short in the evening after keeping pace with the frontrunners throughout the final day was 2005US Open champion and local favourite Michael Campbell.

Teeing off just one behind the overnight leaders, the former New Zealand Open champion also succumbed to the howling wind on the back nine as he struck three bogeys to finish at three-under and tied for second.

Speaking moments after bogeying the 18th to finish two shots behind Green, Campbell said he was disappointed not win at home.

"It wasn't meant to be," he said."I played pretty well, went close a few times and the putts didn't drop, but all credit to Nathan Green for playing so well in these conditions."

The Blue Chip New Zealand Open champion was just pleased to stop the agonising wait.

"That was the hardest day of my life," said Green. "It was tough to sit there watching the guys come in. Your heart is in your mouth over every putt."

Green played 30 tournaments on the U.S. PGA Tour this year, finishing second in the Buick Invitational and in the top 10 on five other occasions.

He led last month's Australian Open after two rounds before finishing fifth.

The Blue Chip New Zealand Open is co-sanctioned by the European and Australasian tours.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1GREEN, NathanAUS18-5
T2MOSELEY, JarrodAUS18-3
T2FRASER, MarcusAUS18-3
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