Min Woo Lee will go in search of a remarkable double as he takes a three-stroke lead into the weekend at the ISPS HANDA Australian Open.
The 25-year-old, who won his third DP World Tour title at last week’s Fortinet Australian PGA Championship, carded a seven under par round of 64 at The Australian Golf Club to take the outright lead on 12 under par.
Lee, who started the day four strokes behind first round leader Cameron Davis, recovered from a bogey on the first hole with a chip-in birdie from a greenside bunker on the fourth and another gain on the eighth to make the turn one under par.
He covered his final eight holes in just 30 strokes, with four birdies and an incredible eagle on the par five 18th. After finding the pine straw under a tree with his drive, Lee hit a sublime nine iron 190 yards to set up a two-foot eagle putt and a commanding lead at his home national open.
He is now aiming to become the first DP World Tour member to win back-to-back events since Christiaan Bezuidenhout in 2020.
The ISPS HANDA Australian Open is being contested across two courses on the outskirts of Sydney: The Australian and The Lakes. Players have completed one round on both courses and all the action at the weekend will take place at The Australian.
Joining Lee at The Australian on Friday was American Patrick Rodgers, who carded a one under par 70 to reach nine under par. He shares second place with Connor Syme of Scotland, who carded a two under par 70 at The Lakes as he looks to build on his T13 finish last week in Brisbane.
The tournament is also being played concurrently with the ISPS HANDA Women’s Open, and the Australian All Abilities Championship.
In the women’s event, also played across both courses, 2013 champion Jiyai Shin, of South Korea, leads by two strokes on nine under after carding a four under par 68 at The Australian. In second place is defending champion and 2022 AIG Women’s Open winner Ashleigh Buhai of South Africa on seven under.
The three-round All Abilities Championship is being held at The Australian, and the final day is finely poised with three players, including World Number Two on the World Ranking for Golfers with a Disability Brendan Lawlor, sharing the lead on one over par.
The Irishman carded a one under 70 to join home favourites Cameron Pollard and Lachlan Wood at the top of the leaderboard.
Min Woo Lee: “It was unreal. I didn’t think that we could beat last week’s crowds, but we’ve very nearly done it before the weekend, so it’s unreal. It’s really fun. Most of my golf has been really good because of the crowd and the support, and I’m really happy for that.
“A bit lucky off the tee shot (on 18), I pulled it, but I smoked it, so I knew I had a chance of carrying that bunker. Ended up in the nice pine straw out there and had a really good number for a nine iron, like really big nine iron and I’ve been hitting draws all week and it kind of sat up really nicely. I saw the coverage and it spun left towards the hole and nearly actually went in, so really happy with that finish. It’s always nice to make an eagle whenever, but on the last hole, it’s even nicer.”
Connor Syme: “It was really quick out of the blocks which was obviously brilliant and then kind of trickier, to be honest. I just struggled with my irons a little bit on my second nine and the way the pins are, if you’re a little bit off, it makes it tricky. I had a lot of good par saves but couldn’t really get close enough to make many birdies coming in which was disappointing, but still in a good spot.”
Jiyai Shin: “Even when I practiced round here, I thought maybe I’d be happy with a three or four under par per day. I’m really happy with this course, but some winds help little bit further with fairway. So I had some short irons to make good chance to the birdie. It’s definitely hard, but I don’t know for next couple of days, with the pin locations, whether it’s going to be hard again.”
Brendan Lawlor: “To be honest, this is number one for me on my schedule. It’s a fully inclusive event. We’re playing at the very same times as the main guys. We have full access to player lounges, practice rounds and whatever we want. When the guys market all abilities, all inclusive, that’s exactly what it is, and it’s a joy for me to come back here. Hopefully I’ll be coming back here in 20 years, still playing All Abilities if I can. It’s incredible.”