GOLD COAST, Australia: In-form Australian Marc Leishman fired seven-under-par 65 to storm to a share of the lead of the Australian PGA on the Gold Coast on Friday.
Leishman, who this week won the Greg Norman Medal for the Australian golfer of the year, started the second round one shot behind overnight leaders Adam Bland and Jordan Zunic.
But his sizzling second round ensured he would finish the day at 12 under par alongside Bland, who fired a second consecutive six-under 66 at par-72 Royal Pines.
Two-time champion Greg Chalmers was two shots further back on 10 under, one ahead of Zunic, Cameron Smith and Rhein Gibson.
US Masters champion Sergio Garcia fired a one-under 71 to close at six under but Adam Scott, who won the green jacket in 2013, struggled all day and missed the cut by two shots after finishing at one over.
Leishman, who won the biggest tournament of his career at the BMW Championship in September, began his round with three consecutive birdies, and despite two bogeys on the back nine, he fired four more birdies and an eagle.
“I was striking the ball well and thought I would be pretty aggressive all day, especially after birdieing the first couple of holes,” Leishman said.
“When you’re on a run like that and playing well, you sort of can afford to be aggressive.
“If you make a few mistakes, you feel like you can make some birdies.”
Bland, 35, has not won a tournament since the 2015 Japanese PGA but he fired seven birdies and only one bogey to keep pace with Leishman.
He said it was important to have a solid second round to build on his efforts on the opening day.
“It’s always great to get off to a flying start, but if you can’t back it up in the second round or at least be thereabouts, you’re kind of just chasing your tail for the rest of the week,” he said.
Garcia had a blemish-free round on Thursday but found the going slightly tougher in the second round, his five birdies spoiled by two bogeys and a double bogey on the par-five ninth.
“I hit a couple of really nice putts but I was probably a little bit tired I think, physically and mentally,” he said.
“Because of that, obviously my golf game wasn’t as sharp as I would like it to be.”
Garcia conceded he would have to shoot well tomorrow to be in with a chance of winning the title.
“If we don’t have a great day tomorrow, then it’s going to be tough because those guys are playing well and they’re not going to back up much,” he said.
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Australian PGA third-round scores
Leading scores after the third round of the Australian PGA golf championship at the par-72 Royal Pines Resort on Friday:
199 – Jordan Zunic (AUS) 66-69-64
202 – Cameron Smith (AUS) 68-67-67
203 – Adam Bland (AUS) 66-66-71
206 – David Bransdon (AUS) 69-71-66, Marc Leishman (AUS) 67-65-74
207 – Greg Chalmers (AUS) 68-66-73
208 – Sergio Garcia (ESP) 67-71-70
209 – Jack Wilson (AUS) 71-70-68, Lucas Herbert (AUS) 68-73-68
210- Jake McLeod (AUS) 72-71-67, Rod Pampling (AUS) 70-72-68, Marcus Armitage (ENG) 74-68-68, Sean Crocker (USA) 69-71-70, Richard Green (AUS) 72-67-71, Curtis Luck (AUS) 73-66-71, Wade Ormsby (AUS) 71-67-72, Joachim Hansen (DEN) 69-69-72, Harold Varner III (USA) 71-66-73