China’s Yuan Yechun blitzed the field for a one-shot lead after day two of the European Tour co-sanctioned Australian PGA Championship on Friday, but wily Adam Scott lurked dangerously for a weekend charge.
The big-hitting 22-year-old broke away from the pack with three consecutive birdies on holes 11, 12 and 13 before losing his touch with two bogeys.
But he restored order with another birdie — his eighth of the day — for a seven-under-par-65. It left him one clear of Australia’s Anthony Quayle, who mixed six birdies and an eagle with two bogeys in his 66.
World number 18 Scott is well placed heading into Saturday, two off the pace after draining three birdies in his final four holes. “I pulled a 7-iron somewhere that I didn’t like very much and made a bogey but other than that I think I pretty much hit 16 greens today, so it was fairly stress-free,” said Scott, who nailed an eagle for the second consecutive day at the par-5 15th in his 67.
“I rolled a lot of nice putts. A lot went by the edge, but I made a couple as well.” It left him tied for third with fellow Australian and old friend Wade Ormsby, who he has known since they were 13. Another Australian Cameron Smith, the defending champion, also made a move, stroking a bogey-free 65 to surge back into contention for a third Australian PGA title. He sits four behind Yuan after a disappointing first-round 74.
Smith said he was drained on Thursday after an intense week at the Presidents Cup, where he was on Ernie Els’ International team, alongside Scott that lost to Tiger Woods’ Americans.
“It was tough yesterday, (because it was) so draining last week… it’s amazing what a day can do in the game of golf,” he said. “I didn’t play aggressive or anything, just did my stuff and walked away with seven birdies.” American Cameron Champ, who won the Safeway Open on the PGA Tour this year, stroked a 70 to go with his first-round 71 to leave him with work to do, five adrift of Yuan.