Zunic leads over Cameron Smith with another shot back to Adam Bland while David Bransdon and Marc Leishman at 10 under and within seven of the lead and perhaps still within striking distance should the leader falter tomorrow.
His round of 64 to equal the 2015 course record today included an outward nine of 29 before further birdies at the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th swept him to 20 under par and as he stood on the 17th tee he was 11 under par for the day 20 under for the tournament and seven ahead of Adam Bland and Cameron Smith.
It was fairy-tale stuff and even though he would go on to drop a shot at the 17th after finding both a fairway and greenside bunker and then double bogey the last after finding the fairway bunker again, his eight under par round had given him a precious three shot buffer.
“It was a bit of a flash that round,” Zunic told the media after his round. “I can’t remember bits of it almost because I was just going with the flow. I did such a great job today of what I have been working on in regards to my mindset as Nick O’Hern told me they would.
“I was surprising myself every time I looked at a shot. I just felt comfortable over it, I looked at where I wanted to hit it and it was just going there. It does not happen often but when it does it is a lot of fun.”
Zunic had reached out to O’Hern after recently reading the former Australia PGA champion’s book on mindset and the pair played a practice round together on Tuesday during which O’Hern reminded Zunic just how good he was after a period where he may well have been questioning himself.
“Nick told me that when he realised what my potential is it will be scary. To have someone like Nick O’Hern say that it made me realise I am a little better than what I am thinking now.
“I was just getting in my own way. I spoke to my coach and there are times that he says he can’t do much because the swing looked so good. He and I think it is all mental. I know my technique has been so good over the last two or three months but it was a case of getting in my own way.
“I actually had a chat with Nick again this morning before I teed off. He agreed to meet me this morning, just had a bit of a chat, nothing too serious. I just told him how I was feeling and what I did yesterday and how I've been doing things really well.
"He just reassured me that what I was doing was good. So yeah, it was just nice to sit down and talk to him. It just helped me probably calm the nerves a little bit before I teed off today. Yeah, I'm just really happy with how everything went."
When asked about the dropped shots on the last two holes and how they reconciled Zunic responded; “What two holes? I just think of 16 good holes and that’s all I see in my mind. I am sure we will sit down and talk about it tonight but to be honest I didn’t do too much wrong even though I dropped a few on the last two holes."
Smith is Australia’s fourth highest world ranked player but tends to fly under the radar to some extent although, like Zunich, tomorrow offers the chance for him to win one of Australia’s flagship events and elevate his status.
The Queenslander put together a round of 67 today to move into outright second but played with Zunic and was in awe of the leader’s display. “Yeah, he put on a bit of a display the first 13 or 14 holes there. He was on a bit of a run, it was pretty incredible to watch actually. And in that wind he was just a magician on the greens as well. I think he would have had 15 putts (inaudible,) that was just amazing.
“I just didn't let Jordan's round get ahead of me there. I just kept doing what I was doing. I knew I was playing well, I knew I was putting well. Just needed a couple chances and took advantage of them.”
Bland effectively trod water today but, at four off the lead, is still close enough if good enough tomorrow.
Pending storms will result in the final round being brought forward to hopefully get play completed by early afternoon to avoid the remnants of the storm currently hitting the southern regions of Australia.
Tomorrow’s final round might not have pre-tournament favourite Sergio Garcia or Marc Leishman in close contention but the storylines are endless and a possible fairytale for Zunic who a month ago missed out on qualifying for the European Tour but who tomorrow might just play his way in anyway.
CAMERON DAVIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN
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