Three Kiwis are within touch of full playing rights on the PGA Tour of Australasia
Three Kiwis are within touch of earning full playing rights on the PGA Tour of Australasia in the 2016 season.
Wellington professional Nick Gillespie, Auckland pro Fraser Wilkin and Southland amateur Vaughan McCall are all in a share of 16th place on a five-under par total at the Final Stage Qualifying School in Victoria.
The top five players (and ties) earn a full card for the tour and the Kiwi trio, who will earn conditional status if they remain inside the top 40, are four shots back from the number.
The Kiwis rallied on moving day when they need it most on the Champions Course of the Sandhurst Golf Club - Gillespie signed for a four-under par 68, Wilkin a two-under par 70 and McCall turned heads when he fired the low round of the day, a superb seven-under par 65.
McCall, who made history in 2012 when he won the NZ Amateur and the New Zealand Stroke Play in the same season, made eight birdies and a bogey in a round that showed his mental strength.
The Kiwis will begin the final round seven shots back from New South Welshman Callan O'Reilly who will take a two shot lead into Friday after a three-under par 69.
Starting round three two shots behind leader, Jack Wilson, O'Reilly opened his round on the back nine with a birdie, a bogey and an eagle in the first three holes.
"I played really well today," he said afterwards. "I probably let a couple of opportunities slip by late but the golf was as good as I've played for a while so I was really happy."
With stormy conditions expected to move across parts of southern Victoria on Friday, O'Reilly is confident the unsettled conditions won't pose a threat in the final round.
"You've just got to take what comes. Anyone who's followed the pro-ams and the Tour schedule last year would know we've coped with rain delays."
As the final round looms and the chance to walk away with tournament exemptions on the PGA Tour of Australasia for the 2016 season, the reality of what the final day holds is weighing on the minds of many in the top-10.
"It would be a weight off the shoulders. Just to know that you can plan your year and not having to wait and see if you're in tournaments," said O'Reilly.
Manawatu amateur Lachie McDonald is the next best of the Kiwis, only one shot back after a one-under par 71 in round three.
Daniel Pearce (67), amateur Tae Koh (69) and Levin amateur Tyler Hodge (73) are all still inside the top 40 which will earn conditional status while former NZ Amateur Champion Joshua Munn is tied 45th and one shot outside of that mark on one-under par.
Hamilton pro Mathew Perry (Even), Mount Maunganui pro Hayden Beard (+3) and Takaka pro Blair Riordan (+4) are all off the pace.
This week's winner will gain Tournament Exemption Category 7 (a) for the duration of the 2016 season. A playoff will determine the winner if players are tied.
Players ranked two to five will be placed in Exemption Category 10 for the duration of the 2016 season, while players ranked six to 40 will be placed in Exemption Category 13 for the duration of the 2016 season.