Morgan’s Hall of Fame help in Australian PGA push

Morgan’s Hall of Fame help in Australian PGA push

There are two men in the corner of 22-year-old rookie Jed Morgan who know a thing or two about pressure.

Ricky Ponting captained the Australian cricket team to Ashes victories and World Cup wins; Graeme Lloyd was a member of the New York Yankees’ bullpen in their World Series win over the Atlanta Braves in 1996.

So when the Royal Queensland member who hails from the tiny town of Hatton Vale 70 minutes west of Brisbane begins his third round of the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship on Saturday with a six-stroke lead it will be their actions, not their words, that he will lean on.

Morgan set a new course record on Friday with a blistering morning round of eight-under 63 to post 14-under for the opening two rounds, the lowest 36-hole total to par in the Australian PGA since Peter Senior’s 15-under mark at Coolum in 2003.

It has brought the 22-under tournament record set by Nick O’Hern and Peter Lonard in 2006 well into range, O’Hern himself tweeting on Friday in between commentary stints on Fox Sports that “records are meant to be broken”.

Gatton product Andrew Dodt (66) will play alongside Morgan in the final group in Round 3 with Round 1 pacesetters Louis Dobbelaar (71) and Aaron Pike (70) a further shot back and seven shots from the leader.

Given he has been a professional golfer for only three months Morgan is entering uncharted territory on Saturday but will call on his exposure to two legends of Australian sport to cope with the moment.

Last year Morgan, the 2020 Australian Amateur champion at Royal Queensland, received a Tier 1 Scholarship within the 2021 Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentoring Program, Australian cricket legend and golf fanatic Ponting appointed as his mentor.

“The pair have opened up, I guess their insight of professional sport and just dealing with this type of stuff,” said Morgan, who has shot 10-under at Royal Queensland off the blue tees.

“I don’t know if I take too many words or phrases from people, but I just more take how they act and stuff like that.

“I think they’re just both aggressive people, especially when they’re competing, and that’s how you’ve got to be.”

Sharing a coach in Grant Field, Morgan has also had first-hand exposure to Cameron Smith’s preparation and philosophy on golf, the pair sharing a laidback nature and love of fishing.

With a gallery tipped to expand with more friends and family across the weekend, Morgan has made no secret of his winning intentions given the position he has put himself at the halfway mark.

“I’m definitely thinking about it.  It’s pretty hard not to if you’re leading,” Morgan said of his pursuit of the Joe Kirkwood Cup.

“It’s part of it. There’s plenty of guys ahead of me that have thought about winning and gone on to win, so no reason I can’t do it.

“I didn’t know if 14 (under) was really a number that we could get to through two rounds, but I’m there, so I just won’t put a cap on it.

“They had 35-under last week on a golf course that’s pretty big and long, so there’s no number or cap on it. Just got to keep making birdies.”

Marquee man Min Woo Lee (70) struggled for much of his second round but two late birdies at the 15th and 17th holes dragged him back inside the top 10 but 10 strokes off the lead.