Victorian Geoff Ogilvy will take a one-shot lead into the third round of the Australian Open after a stunning performance at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney yesterday.
Out early in the morning field, Ogilvy made the most of the perfect conditions, sinking seven birdies on his way to the outright lead for the event co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and OneAsia.
Taiwan’s Yeh Wei-tze and Hsieh Tung-shu were at one-over par, while compatriot Chan Shih-chang stood at two-over.
At the halfway mark Ogilvy leads at 11-under, only one shot ahead of fellow US Tour player Matt Jones, who shot an incredible round of eight-under in tough afternoon conditions.
Matt Griffin is a further shot back at nine-under while American Dudley Hart shares fourth position with 2006 Australian Open Champion John Senden.
Teeing off the 10th hole alongside defending champion Adam Scott and China’s No. 1 player -Liang Wenchong, Ogilvy’s day started slowly before holing three consecutive birdies from the 13th.
With two more birdies on 17 and 18 Ogilvy turned at five-under through his first nine holes.
As the wind started to increase in the afternoon Ogilvy sank two more birdie putts on 3 and 8, finishing the morning field in the clear lead and leaving it up to the afternoon field to chase down his score.
Liang became the joint-top Asian in the field after a bogey-free 68 put him two-under, level with Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat (72) as well as Korean Tour player John Huh (71) of the USA.
Five-time champion Greg Norman thrilled organizers by carding an impressive three-under 69 to comfortably make the cut at one-under overall.
But two-time winner Aaron Baddeley (75) and American drawcards John Daly (77) and Fred Couples (74) all finished on two-over par, missing the cut.
A refreshed Ogilvy attributed his form to some much needed time off over the last two months back in his home town of Melbourne.
“I am much happier with [my game] this time than I was this time last year. I was pretty over it this time last year. This was my sixth tournament in seven weeks last year,” said Ogilvy, who finished outside the top 30 in last year’s Australian Open. “I had a really good time away from the game. I have practiced pretty hard for a month, starting the week before the Masters. It has been nice to be in Melbourne for two full months.”
Ogilvy has won eight tournaments in his career, capped by the 2006 US Open title at Winged Foot, and has banked more than US$22 million in prize money.
He is chasing his second tournament win in Australia following his triumph at the 2008 Australian PGA championship.
Ogilvy has long declared his desire to put his name on the Stonehaven Cup, but is trying not to think about it too much just yet.
“You’d be lying if you said you weren’t thinking about winning, but it’s way in the back of your mind,” he said.
Additional reporting by staff writer