Birdie blitz gives Wools-Cobb the New Zealand Open lead

A five-hole birdie barrage has given Queensland's Shae Wools-Cobb a two-stroke lead through three rounds of the $1.52 million New Zealand Open in Queenstown.

After playing in the third-to-last group a week ago at TPS Hunter Valley, Wools-Cobb has gone from the hunter to the hunted at the Millbrook Resort.

His third-round six-under-par 65 on the Coronet Course was bettered only by Brendan Jones' brilliant 62 and gives Wools-Cobb his best chance at a breakthrough professional victory.

At 17 under, Wools-Cobb is two clear of halfway leader Chris Wood (68) with Japan's Terumichi Kakazu (66) outright third at 14 under.

Experienced trio Jones, Scott Hend (68) and Rhein Gibson (66) are looming in a share of fourth, four strokes off the lead at 13 under.

Boasting three top-five finishes in the past two seasons on the PGA Tour of Australasia, the Kingaroy-born 27-year-old was sublime in the middle part of his round.

A birdie at the par-3 fifth was the first of five straight, dissecting fairways and hitting blistering iron shots to set up chances from close-range at every hole.

Suddenly possessing a three-stroke lead, a wait of more than 20 minutes on the 10th tee stalled Wools-Cobb's momentum before a three-putt bogey on the par-4 13th reduced his advantage to two.

The 2021 Vic PGA champion, Wood guaranteed his spot in the final group with a birdie at the par-3 18th but it's Wools-Cobb who will carry the weight of 54-hole leader into the final round.

"It's my first time doing it so it's exciting. I'm in a pretty good head space at the moment, said Wools-Cobb.

"I've really been working on pre-shot routine, trying to stick to that. That got me through today. When I wasn't feeling too good over a few shots it really got me through."

Out in the eighth group of the day after making the cut on the number, Jones shrugged off Queenstown's cool, drizzly morning to set the course alight.

A par save from 15 feet on two kicked Jones into gear, who celebrated his 48th birthday on Friday.

He made birdies on three, four and eight but it was the back nine where he surged up the leaderboard.

He picked up shots at 10, 12, 13, 15, 17 and 18 in a bogey-free 62 that resembled practice rounds earlier in the week.

"Teeing off early, I had the opportunity and if I could replicate some of the practice rounds and the couple of tournament rounds of a couple of weeks ago then I could shoot a good score," said Jones, who was tied for fifth at TPS Sydney a fortnight ago in his first start for 2023.

"That whole back nine I was pretty much hitting it exactly where I wanted to hit it and gave myself chances on every hole."