Australian Kennedy bags second New Zealand Open title


(Reuters) – Australia’s Brad Kennedy hit a spotless eight-under-par 63 in the final round of the New Zealand Open to chase down compatriot Lucas Herbert and clinch the title by two strokes on Sunday.

Kennedy, 45, gained three strokes on the front nine and a further five after the turn for a total of 21-under-par 264 at the Millbrook Resort to claim the title he also won in 2011.

Herbert, who won the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic in January, had appeared to be cruising but lost his way after a double-bogey on the 13th.

Needing a birdie at the closing hole to force a playoff, he instead found water and finished with a bogey to end two strokes ahead of fellow Australian Nick Flanagan.

“I just grinded it out and really tried to play within my game as much as I could,” Kennedy said. “I just let my putter do the talking today and I’m just relieved, and to do this again after nine years is just unbelievable.

“I didn’t look at a leaderboard all day. I actually posted a number in my head last night, 21 was the number, and I didn’t think I’d reach it but I just knew that this course was out there to be had, the course is playing unbelievable.”

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell