Tiger-like challenge facing Australian PGA hopefuls

Tiger-like challenge facing Australian PGA hopefuls

When Tiger Woods took a nine-stroke lead into the final round of the 1997 Masters at Augusta National, Colin Montgomerie was asked whether anyone else might wear the green jacket on Sunday. Montgomerie shot 74 to Woods’ 65 playing in the same group that Saturday and famously declared in the press centre afterwards that “there is no chance humanly possible that Tiger Woods is going to lose this tournament. No way.” Andrew Dodt stopped short of anything Monty-esque on Saturday at Royal Queensland Golf Club but concedes that Jed Morgan’s Fortinet Australian PGA Championship procession appears almost unstoppable. Playing together in the final group alongside Sydney’s Grace Kim in Saturday’s third round, Dodt’s intent was to apply early pressure and monitor Morgan’s response. When a six-shot lead was trimmed to five after hole one any cracks in the 22-year-old’s façade would have widened yet harnessing the support of his home-club fans he instead grabbed one of golf’s most revered tournaments firmly by the throat. No one bettered Morgan’s score of six-under 65 on Saturday as his 54-hole total climbed to 20-under par, Dodt’s closing birdie ensuring the pair will play together again on championship Sunday. With so much at stake so early in his professional career there will again be questions about Morgan’s temperament, questions Dodt now feels the 22-year-old is well-equipped to answer. “Is it doable? Nine shots, that’s a lot, on his home course in front of his home fans,” Dodt conceded after losing ground despite shooting three-under 68 on Saturday. “It’s going to take a low round and potentially a not so good round on his behalf, but he’s full of confidence, he’s playing well, he’s holing putts. It’s going to be tough.” If there is a player in the field other than Morgan with momentum at their back it is Victorian David Micheluzzi. Even par on his round through 11 holes, Micheluzzi (66) looked unlikely to make any kind of impact but then rattled off five consecutive birdies to be in outright third at 10-under.
Like Dodt, his position on the leaderboard is not indicative of the distance to the leader but Micheluzzi knows his only option is to go low again on Sunday. “Win, lose, whatever, all I want to do is shoot four, five-under tomorrow,” Micheluzzi said. “If a few more putts go in, hopefully in the low 60s, but I just want to stick to my game plan. “That’s the biggest goal I want to achieve this week.  Obviously the result does matter, but for me internally, the process and all that stuff is much more important. “The last couple of tournaments I just haven’t putted that great and the ball striking’s been good. This week’s been great with both the things.” Another Royal Queensland member in Jake McLeod (67) is in fourth spot at nine-under par followed by reigning Australian Amateur champion Louis Dobbelaar (70) with Cameron John (67) and Daniel Gale (68) sharing sixth spot at seven-under.
Headline act Min Woo Lee shot two-under 69 on Saturday to be six-under and tied for eighth with one round to play.