Lee, Scott set up super Saturday at Australian PGA

Lee, Scott set up super Saturday at Australian PGA

Australian golf’s superstar in waiting, Min Woo Lee, will go toe-to-toe with our only Masters champion Adam Scott in a tantalising final group on Saturday at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship.

Lee leant on his exceptional short game on Friday to conjure par saves at each of his final three holes to post a second round of 5-under 66 and 12-under total at the halfway mark at Royal Queensland Golf Club.

Scott, who matched Cameron John’s 65 for low round of the day, looms large in outright second, one stroke clear of Sydney’s John Lyras (67) who has a three-shot buffer from Lucas Herbert (68), Curtis Luck (67) and Round 1 leader, Spain’s Joel Moscatel (71).

Luck delivered the first hole-in-one at the Southern Comfort Party Hole, the celebrations somewhat muted given he holed a gap wedge from 124 metres at 8.56am.

A late move of the cut-line from 1-under to even par saw 80 players advance to the weekend, necessitating groups of three for the final two rounds.

That will see Lyras join Lee and Scott in the final group with Herbert, Luck and Moscatel to play in the penultimate group in Round 3.

Such is the age gap between the pair, Lee was a skinny teen from Perth watching on TV at the Junior Interstate Series when Scott won The Masters at Augusta National in 2013.

Through an introduction by South Australian Wade Ormsby, the pair have become friends in recent years, sharing dinners when Scott tees it up on the DP World Tour.

That will count for nothing on Saturday as Lee endeavours to solidify his stature as one of world golf’s hottest young stars and Scott tries to prove that, at 43 years of age, his days of winning tournaments are far from over.

“It’s amazing. Only a few years ago I was dreaming to be in this spot, especially to play with ‘Scotty’,” said the 25-year-old Lee, who spent Thursday night at Post Malone’s Brisbane concert.

“It seems only like a few years ago I was in the Interstate Series watching him winning the Masters. It is cool to have him as a friend and play in the final group.

“Anywhere you are in the final group of any tournament, it’s a pretty good achievement, so hopefully I can keep it going.”

Given he turned professional before Lee turned two, Scott has seen enough to know that winning a Saturday showdown doesn’t win you trophies.

In a bogey-free round in which he lipped out with his tee shot for albatross on the par-4 12th and then lipped out again for eagle with the subsequent putt, Scott displayed the peerless ball-striking that has made him such a perennial contender for more than 20 years.

“I don’t really know what happened, but that’s a nice way to make an easy three there and keep the round going,” Scott said of his near miss on 12.

“My striking feels better than it has been, feeling a bit more comfortable and also doing what I want it to do a bit more often.

“That’s very pleasing for me, good for the confidence too going into the weekend.

“Someone’s going to have a good score out there; it may as well be me.”

Ranked 763 in the world, Lyras is the odd man out in Saturday’s final group but is ready to embrace the moment.

He played his way into a pairing with Lee at Royal Queensland 12 months ago and, with four top-five finishes on the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia in the past two years, is ready to meet the moment.

“That would be remarkable, I’d love that,” said Lyras, who finished 45 minutes before the cut moved to bring an additional 17 players into the final two rounds.

“I tell you what, I played with Min Woo last year, Round 3, it doesn’t work by just sitting there and letting things come to you.

“There’s a point where you’ve got to step on it a bit and see how much you can take from the golf course.

“I plan on doing a better job of that tomorrow and just being overall more aggressive and more trusting in the game.

“You’re never going to play good golf by being ultra conservative with your game-plan or thought process.”

The greatest casualty on Friday was defending champion Cameron Smith, who fought back tears after signing for a 7-over 78 to miss the cut by nine strokes.