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Josh Geary within range of top-10 finish

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 19:55 15/12/2012

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Josh Geary continued to fly the New Zealand flag at the season-ending Australian PGA Championship on the Sunshine Coast to sit within range of a top-10 finish heading into tomorrow's final round at Coolum.

The 28-year-old from Invercargill constructed his second 3-under round of 69 in benign conditions to lie in a share of 18th at six-under, seven shots adrift of Australian Daniel Popovic, who has topped the leader board since Thursday's opening round.

Geary, who turned professional in 2007, made a stunning start on the front nine, racking up four consecutive birdies to be seven-under the card at one point in a share of fifth.

His fifth birdie on the par-3 11th had him on track for one of the rounds of the day but he lost ground with bogeys on the 12th and last.

Mark Brown recorded his first sub-par round of the tournament, a two-under 70 complemented consistent 71s to leave him as the next best New Zealander in 31st at four-under.

Australian Peter Senior's rise from eighth to a tie for third at 10-under officially ended Michael Hendry's slender hopes of claiming the PGA Tour of Australasia's Order of Merit and rewards including a start in next year's British Open.

Senior's five-birdie, four-under 68 strengthens his hold on the Order given former leader Hendry, his closest challenger, is languishing in 41st at two-under - eight strokes behind the veteran.

The 32-year-old Aucklander at least fashioned his best round so far, a three-under 69 containing four birdies and just one bogey.

Brad Shilton made significant strides on Friday to ensure he made the cut but he was unable to replicate his five-under 67 and an even-par round left him in 44th with a one-under three round total of 215.

Nick Gillespie, the only other Kiwi from the original 12-strong contingent to survive the cut, was one-over thanks to his second even-par completion.

Popovic continued to set aside the emotions involved with his father's ongoing battle with cancer by carding a 69 studded with six birdies, many the product of precision putting from long range, to lead by two shots.

The Victorian heads compatriot Anthony Brown whose nine-birdie blitz set-up the round of the day, a superb eight-under 64.

China's Xin Jun Zhang, who shared the lead with Popovic at the start of the day, opened his costly 74 with back-to-back bogeys and although he then reeled off three birdies, a triple bogey 8 on the 12th was the catalyst for his drift to ninth.

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