The pair sit three clear after the opening two rounds at Clearwater Golf Club at eight under par and will go head-to-head during the third and final round in the shortened event tomorrow morning.

The field got underway at 8 am again today with a shotgun start, with Jones teeing off the seventh.

He got off to another fast start with a birdie on the eighth and made five pars on the trot before getting on the board again at the 14th. After a bogey on 16, he switched gears and made a flurry of birdies coming home, starting at 17.

Jones finished with birdies at two, four, and five and parred his remaining two holes to sign for a second round of five under 67 following his three-under 69 yesterday.

The Jennian Homes Trophy leader is looking to be the first person to win consecutive Jennian Homes Charles Tour events since Luke Toomey in 2019.

He says his game is in good shape and is looking forward to the challenge ahead of tomorrow.

“I hit it really nicely today. I hit a tonne of greens, missed a couple of putts early, but managed to make a few in the middle part of the round.

“It’d mean a lot [to win]. To go back-to-back would be pretty cool.”

The 26-year-old Taranaki golfer will need to fend off one of the tour’s veterans, Josh Geary.

Geary also sits eight under following consecutive 68s.

He teed off the fifth and got off to a slow start by his standards, opening with eight pars before getting on the board with a birdie at 13. He made it two in a row with a birdie on the next and made consecutive birdies again at two and three to get to four under.

He finished with a couple of pars to sign for a blemish-free 68, a score that he is satisfied with in the blustery Clearwater conditions.

“It was a carbon copy of yesterday. I hit 17 greens again, but I’m pulling my hair out with the putter in my hands. I felt as though I putted great, but nothing seemed to drop until my second to last hole where I holed an 18-footer, which is the first one over six feet I’ve holed this week.

“I’ve been hitting it great. Hopefully, a few will drop for me tomorrow.”

He’s aware of the challenge that lies ahead but has plenty of experience contending in tournaments at Clearwater following his runner-up finishes at the New Zealand Open and New Zealand PGA Championships that have been held here previously.

He says a low one tomorrow is what is required.

“It depends on the weather. If it’s like today, another 68 will probably go quite close, but if it’s calm, I’ll probably need five or six.

“It’s another golf course I haven’t won on before. I’ve had some success here in the past at the New Zealand Open and New Zealand PGA where I’ve finished second twice, so it’ll be nice to get one across the line here at Clearwater.”

Joining the pair in the final group is Clearwater Golf Club member Sam McGill.

McGill has fired 68 and 71 in his opening two rounds to sit three shots back alongside round one leader Tyler Wood.

The 31-year-old began off the first and continued right where he left off yesterday, turning in a couple under after birdies at three, five, and nine, with his lone bogey on the front side coming at seven.

The birdies unfortunately dried up on the back nine. He bogeyed 13 and 17 but finished with a birdie at 18 in front of his home supporters.

He says he’s had a surreal experience so far this week.

“I never ever thought I’d get to be playing with these big dogs, but to be able to play with the best in New Zealand is a dream come true. I can’t wait for tomorrow.”

McGill has had a strong contingent of family and Clearwater friends and supporters following him all week, and can’t wait to do them proud in the final group of a Jennian Homes Charles Tour event tomorrow.

“It means the world. I have my wife out here caddying and my mother-in-law has been looking after the kids for the last couple of days so I can play. Just to have my wife on the bag is awesome; we have three young girls, so it’s pretty hectic around home.

“I’m just lost for words to be honest. I can’t wait to rip in tomorrow.”

Jessica Green is the leading woman at one-over-par in 19th equal at one-over-par.

Play gets underway at 8 am again tomorrow, with the leaders teeing off at 9.30.