Golf: Brad Kennedy wins second NZ Open title

Australian veteran Brad Kennedy has continued his love affair with golf tournaments on Kiwi soil, winning the New Zealand Open by two shots from compatriot Lucas Herbert in a gripping finish.

Queenslander Kennedy closed with a faultless eight-under 63 at Millbrook Resort, near Queenstown, the equal-lowest round of the tournament.

His 21-under tally followed his victory in the same tournament in 2011, when he headed off Australian Craig Parry in a playoff in Christchurch.

Three of 45-year-old Kennedy's five Australasian PGA Tour titles have come in New Zealand, also winning the NZ PGA Championship four years ago.

Overnight co-leader Herbert, who'd won the Dubai Desert Classic in January, needed a birdie on the par-three final hole to force a playoff, but sent his tee-shot into the water and he finished second after a 67.

Brad Kennedy celebrates his NZ Open victory
Brad Kennedy celebrates his NZ Open victory. Photo credit: Photosport

An earlier splash landing on the par-five 13th hole cost Lucas the lead, when he carded a double bogey.

Meanwhile, Kennedy was stringing together three birdies midway through the back nine and the world No.135 held 82nd-ranked Victorian Herbert at bay.

The result was sweet for Kennedy, who had recorded seven top-10 finishes at his 11 appearances, without clinching a win.

The most painful of those results were back-to-back third placings last month at the Queensland PGA Championship and Queensland Open.

"I was going through a lot of emotion out there today," Kennedy told Sky TV. "I've been close the last two events and felt as though I let them slip. 

"Today, I was chasing. I knew the course was playing at it's best and it would take something special to chase down Lucas.

"I just gutsed it out and played within my game as much as I could, and just let my putts do the talking.

"I'm so relieved. To win this again after nine years is just unbelievable."

Kennedy becomes first two-time winner, since Kiwi Greg Turner claimed a second title in 1997.

Australians have now claimed New Zealand's biggest golf prize in eight of the last nine years.

New South Welshman Nick Flanagan carded 66 to finish two back from Herbert in third.

Korean 17-year-old Joohyung Kim, who led through each of the first three rounds, was alone in fourth, a further shot back.

Michael Hendry and Harry Bateman were the pick of the Kiwis, finishing six shots behind the leader in a tie for fifth at 15 under.