Last updated April 10th 2021.
The scene has been set for an epic shootout between Daniel Hillier and Ryan Fox ahead of the final round of the Autex Muriwai Open on the Jennian Homes Charles Tour tomorrow.
Hillier has taken a two-shot lead over Fox after moving day following an impressive round of 66 in blustery and wet conditions. He’s at 19-under for the tournament and has carded rounds of 64 and 67 in the first two rounds.
Hillier got out of the gates quickly making birdies in his opening two holes. After a string of three pars, he picked up another birdie at the sixth and would make the turn at three-under for the day and be tied for the lead with Fox.
The 22-year-old then put some distance between himself and the rest of the field with birdies at the 11th, 12th, and 13th holes to get to six-under for the day. He made a bogey at the par 5 14th but got another shot back up the last to take a two-shot lead going into the final round.
He says he’s extremely satisfied with how he managed the conditions out there.
“I got off to a really steady start and the conditions started to hit on the back nine. I grinded out the hard holes and made a few birdies coming home. The birdie up the last was a nice way to finish,” he says.
Two-shots separate Fox and Hillier with defending James Hydes making his way up the leaderboard and into the final group just four shots back of Fox.
Despite the pair separating themselves from the field, Hillier says he’ll try and not play tomorrow as a match play match with Fox tomorrow.
“Personally, I’m going to execute my own game plan I’ve had all week and hopefully if I do that tomorrow I’ll come out on top.
“Obviously Foxy is going to bring it to me tomorrow and I’m looking forward to the battle on my hands,” Hillier smiles.
He also says being in position to win his fourth Jennian Homes Charles Tour event after a long stint overseas is good validation his game is trending in the right direction.
“It’ll be really special to win my fourth title. Especially after a long time away from home and to come back and play well is really special to me already and I haven’t won here at Muriwai yet. I’m really looking forward to the challenge tomorrow.
“It’s been great playing over here on a world-class track and that gives me a lot of confidence before I head overseas to play on the Challenge Tour again.”
Hillier won’t have it his own way if Fox can have his say.
Fox has carded a third round of 68 to get to 17-under for the tournament after rounds of 65 and 66 in the opening two rounds.
Like Hillier, Fox opened his day with birdies at the second and third holes and took the lead with a birdie at the fourth to poke his nose in front.
He’d bogey the par 5 sixth to fall a shot behind but picked that right back up the next hole with another birdie and be tied with Hillier going into the back nine.
The bad weather hit as soon as they made the turn and Fox made seven pars in a row before making a two at the short par 3 17th. He parred the last and trails Hillier going into the final round in his quest of back-to-back Jennian Homes Charles Tour titles.
He says he was able to take some knowledge from his experiences on the European Tour to manage the tough conditions out there today.
“It was a little bit like The Open out there today I guess, it’s probably about 15 degrees warmer which helps.
“Today was all about keeping the ball in play and the front nine was pretty scorable. The rain came pretty early into our back nine and from then it was about hanging on and not making too many mistakes,” Fox says.
His goal tomorrow is to stick to the game plan both him and caddy Steve Williams have put together and try to put some pressure on Hillier tomorrow.
Defending champion James Hydes will look to come from six back to defend his title and is the third player in the final group tomorrow.
Play gets underway from 8.30am.