Howison Back on Top in New Zealand


Nationwide TourCHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand -- Gusty winds sent scores soaring on Saturday at the New Zealand PGA Championship.
Ryan Howison, the first-round leader, posted a 2-under 70 Saturday to move to the top of the leaderboard after three rounds. He stands at 6-under-par 210 through 54 holes.
James Nitties climbed from a share of fifth into solo second with an even-par 72 in round three. He is one stroke out of the lead at minus-5.
Sal Spallone and Peter Senior shared the second-round lead with Michael Letzig. Spallone and Senior struggled to rounds of 3-over 75.
They fell into a share of third with Nicholas Thompson (70), David Morland IV (70), Lee Williamson (73) and Mark Brown (66) at 4-under-par 212. Brown's 66 moved him from a tie from 60th into a share of third.
After rain pushed the completion of round two into Saturday, players had to deal with gusting winds in the third round. The strong winds sent scores escalating as there were as many rounds in the 80s, three, as there were in the 60s.
Howison started the round at minus-4. He quickly moved up the leaderboard with birdies on the third and fourth. Howison gave those strokes back with bogeys on five and seven.
The three-time winner on the Nationwide Tour steadied himself with three straight pars. Howison birdied the par-3 11th to get back to minus-5.
Howison birdied the par-5 14th at Clearwater Resort. He later birdied the 17th to grab the lead at minus-7. However, Howison closed with a bogey to end at 6 under.
Nitties got off to a fast start with back-to-back birdies from the first. He got to 8 under with a birdie on the par-5 fifth.
Things took a turn for the worse from there. Nitties stumbled to bogeys on eight and nine. After four straight pars, he faltered to a double-bogey at the par-5 14th to tumbled back to 4 under.
Nitties got one stroke back with a birdie on 17 to end alone in second.
Aaron Townsend (71) and Matthew Jones (74) are tied for ninth place at 3-under-par 213. Chez Reavie, Patrick Sheehan, Tim Wilkinson, Craig Parry, Jason Day and Peter Fowler are one stroke further back at minus-2.
Letzig mixed six bogeys with two birdies and a double-bogey in a round of 7-over 79 that dropped him to even-par 213. He is tied for 19th.
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