Mako Thompson (Maraenui) has taken the solo lead by two over his Golf New Zealand National Academy teammate Sam Jones (Manaia) as they both search for their maiden Jennian Homes Charles Tour event.

Thompson has set the course alight over the first three days, shooting 67, 66, and 65 to sit 15-under-par.

He started in a share of the lead with Jones at nine under to start the day and got off to a fast start, making birdies at five, six, and eight to turn in three under. The 23-year-old caught fire on the back nine, making four birdies on the trot from the 12th to get to 16 under, which included a hole-out from the greenside bunker on the challenging par 3 14th.

His only blemish came at the day’s final hole, three-putting for bogey.

He says keeping it simple has been the secret so far this week.

“I played really nicely today. I hit my approach shots nicely and holed a few putts which was nice. I didn’t drive it quite as well as the first couple of rounds but still managed to keep the birdies racking up.

“The gameplan the whole week has been to just put the ball in the fairway and go from there. That’s been the gameplan all week, and that won’t change heading into tomorrow.”

Thompson is looking to tomorrow’s challenge as he attempts to add a Jennian Homes Charles Tour event to his mantelpiece and be the third Golf New Zealand National Academy member to win on the tour since 2020.

“It’d be awesome [to win]. I’ve been getting some stick from Jimmy [Hydes] since he won at Muriwai a couple of years ago. It’d be nice to add one of my own next to his,” Thompson says.

He’ll need to hold off Sam Jones, who is also searching for his first Jennian Homes Charles Tour event. Jones has found some form of late, finishing as the co-medallist at the US Mid-Amateur just over a week ago.

After almost pulling out this week as his golf clubs didn’t follow him back to New Zealand, Jones picked up right where he left off after his opening two rounds, making seven pars and a couple of birdies to open his third round.

After a par on ten, he rattled off a trio of birdies on 11, 12, and 13 to be tied with Thompson. Unfortunately, he three-putted the 17th to record his lone bogey of the day and fall two back.

He says he’s playing well but will need more to catch Thompson tomorrow.

“Today was more of the same, really. The driver is coming out nice again, and I hit a lot of quality iron shots; it was the putter that wasn’t behaving itself today. I made a couple of six or seven-footers, and that was it.

“I need to roll in a few more tomorrow to catch Mako. He played really well today and got hot making four birdies in a row on the back nine, so he will be hard to catch if he keeps playing like that. I need to hole a few more putts to catch him.”

Jones knows the pressures of a final day at a Jennian Homes Charles Tour event. He led most of the Renaissance Brewing New Zealand Stroke Play in April, only to be pipped at the post by a fast-finishing Josh Geary.

He says he learnt a lot from that event and will be looking to apply tomorrow during the heat of battle with a good friend.

“It would be awesome [to win]. I’ve been pretty close a couple of times.

“Hopefully, someone doesn’t shoot seven under on the back nine like Josh [Geary] did at the Renaissance Brewing New Zealand Stroke Play a few months ago,” Jones laughs.

The pair will be joined by Kevin Koong (Muriwai) in the final group tomorrow, who sits at ten under alongside Geary and Kazuma Kobori.

Playing alongside some of New Zealand’s top professionals were six all abilities golfers competing in the first Christies Floorings All Abilities Mount Open. With world ranking points on the line, they’ve come from all over the country to compete and improve their rankings.

Guy Harrison (Napier) leads by three after shooting 81 in today’s opening round.

Harrison was quick out the blocks and played some of his best golf to start the tournament, making three birdies in his first six to be a couple under par. However, he made a couple of bogeys and a double to close out his opening nine in a couple over but still maintained a healthy early lead.

He shot 43 coming home to card an opening round of nine over and lead going into the final day tomorrow.

Harrison says he’s excited just to be competing alongside some great golfers and hopes a good result tomorrow will help him continue competing in big golf tournaments.

“It’s been an incredible experience so far, and seeing the top golfers on the same course that I’m playing has been really cool. It’s a huge opportunity to be out here playing alongside those guys.

“I’m ranked 19th at the moment. If I can somehow win tomorrow, it would give me some great ranking points, which will help me get overseas in the years to come.”

Play gets underway at 8.30 tomorrow morning.

Harrison tees off at 9 am, with the tournament leaders teeing off at 10.50 am.