Kennedy captures NZ Open with final-round 63

Golf

QUEENSTOWN, New Zealand — Australian Brad Kennedy shot a flawless final round 63 on Sunday to overtake compatriot Lucas Herbert and win the New Zealand Open for the second time.

The 45-year-old Queenslander hit the front for the first time at the 14th hole, then showed icy nerves to hold out Herbert and reclaim the title he first won in 2011.

Kennedy came to the par-3 closing hole at 21-under and made a regulation par while Herbert missed an eagle opportunity on the 17th that would have brought him level.

That left Herbert needing a birdie at 18 to force a playoff, but he hit his tee shot well over the green and had to scramble for bogey, giving Kennedy a memorable win.

He finished with a 21-under total of 264, two ahead of Herbert, who was another two shots ahead of Australia’s Nick Flanagan in third.

Kennedy had three birdies on his outward nine, five more on the way home and no bogeys as he tamed the Millbrook Resort course.

“I was going through a lot of emotion out there,” Kennedy said. “I got really close in the last two events and then let them slip.

“Today I was chasing. I knew the course was playing at its best and it would take something special in chasing down Lucas. I just let my putter do the talking, and I’m so relieved to win this again after nine years.”

Kennedy was unaware he had moved into the lead after 14 holes Sunday.

“I didn’t look at the scoreboard all day,” he said. “I actually posted in my head last night that 21 was the number.

“I didn’t think I’d reach it, but I just knew the course was out there to be had.”

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