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China teen shines at top NZ event

(China Daily)

14:03, March 04, 2013

Chinese teenager Li Haotong shot a third-round 66 to share fifth place at 11-under and move within four shots of Australian leader Rohan Blizard in the NZ$600,000 ($495,000) NZ PGA Championship in Queenstown.

Toshinori Muto, Japan's fourth-highest ranked golfer, carded a 69 at the par-72 The Hills course to move to 10-under and shares seventh spot in the PGA Tour of Australasia event with 23-year-old Vietnamese Michael Tran, Asia's other big mover with a 68.

Blizard, Li's playing partner in the first two rounds, birdied the last for a 66 to be at 15-under, one clear of defending champion Michael Hendry (68), New Zealand's No 1.

Li (pictured), 17, had shot a career-low 65 in the second round and signed another bogey-free card on Saturday as he continued his love affair with Down Under, having finished 18th in January's Lexus of Blackburn Heritage Classic on the PGA Tour of Australasia in Melbourne.

Li birdied holes two, four, five and seven on the front nine and picked up further shots on 11 and 15. However, after securing an eagle and two birdies on the par-fives on Friday, the Beijing-born national team player didn't take advantage of any of the long holes, edging the cup with a five-foot birdie putt on 18.

"I made seven-under on Friday, which was a surprise, and today was also good," Li said. "My putting is very good and I'm driving well. I'm really enjoying New Zealand, so I believe I can keep going and will just play my own game on Sunday and try my best to play well again."

Li has competed in several OneAsia events over the past two years as well as qualifying events for the PGA Tour and Japan Tour, reaching the final stage of the latter. His compatriots Zhang Xinjun, Han Ren and Huang Wenyi all missed the cut on Friday.

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