Marc Leishman carded an exceptional 65 to take a share of the lead on day two of the Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast.
The Australian began the day a shot behind co-overnight leader Adam Bland but joined him at 12 under thanks to an eagle and seven birdies, with countryman Bland carding a second consecutive 66.
Leishman, the current World Number 13, is the highest ranked of the home players at RACV Royal Pines Resort and it was Australians who dominated the leaderboard. The 34 year old picked up four shots in his last four holes on Thursday and carried that momentum into round two with birdies on the tenth and 11th to open proceedings.
A bogey followed on the 12th after finding the water but he birdied the 14th after a stunning tee-shot and eagled the next for the second day in a row from eight feet to turn in 32. He made another birdie on the first, took advantage of the par five third and then put his tee-shot on the fifth to tap-in range before parring his way home.
Australian Greg Charmers made his move on Friday afternoon with a round of 66 to sit in outright third at ten under par, with Cameron Smith, Jordan Zunic and Rhein Gibson a further shot back at nine under.
Meanwhile, defending champion Harold Varner III – who finished his round with four birdies – sits in tied seventh alongside James Nitties and Brett Rankin, with Masters Champion Sergio Garcia remaining in contention a further shot back at six under par.
He made five birdies for the day, however the Spaniard found water on the par five ninth for a double bogey and then a bogey to follow on the tenth, to stall his momentum for the day slightly, before he went on to birdie the 11th, 15th, and 16th, to sign for a round of 71. H
Marc Leishman: “I felt really good on the range and felt good yesterday as well, but I was striking the ball well and thought I would be pretty aggressive all day, especially after birdieing the first couple holes. 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.
“So I had a couple of bogeys that were a little bit disappointing, probably 12 especially, but went for that green thinking I was going to try and make an eagle. When you do that, that happens occasionally. But lots of birdies, an eagle on 15, I’m happy with the day.
“Playing in front of friends and family, that’s always nice no matter where it is. Here there seems to be more friends and family because it’s a bit closer to home. I think it would be huge.
“We play tournaments all around the world and a lot of the places you don’t have a whole lot of support, so I think that would be the big thing. To win a tournament that you’ve grown up watching on TV, that you’ve gone and watched as a kid, I went and watched the Australian PGA for the first time when it was at Victoria. You go there and of course one day you hope you’re going to play in it and possibly win it. But yeah, if it was to happen, it would be pretty huge.”
Sergio Garcia: “It wasn’t my best day out there today. I hit a couple really nice putts but probably a little bit tired I think physically and mentally. Because of that, obviously my golf game wasn’t as sharp as I would like it to be but I guess the good thing is we still fought hard, we stayed in it, and as uncomfortable as I felt out there, to be able to still shoot one under, it’s a positive thing.
“I think if I could have easily been just a tiny been sharper, I could have easily shot four or five under and really been very close to the leader. It’s a lot of playing, a lot of traveling, a lot of going around and a lot of great weeks where you need a lot of strength and mental strength, and probably unfortunately I wasn’t quite as sharp today.”
Adam Bland: “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. So it was really important to get off to a good start this morning and I seemed to do that, so it was great.
“I feel like my game, like when I’ve been playing well, it’s been good. I just haven’t caught the momentum so I can’t get really riding it and it’s been on and off. This week I’ve hit a lot of shots close, which I haven’t in previous weeks. So I’ve had a lot of real free birdies which has been nice and birdied a few par fives today so it was great.”
Harold Varner III: “I think I just putted better, just feel like I’m getting better. Marc played really, really well, so I better play well or I’m going to get left behind.
“It’s just nice to finish the round that way and just give me a chance this weekend. I’m going to need some help, though, because if he keeps playing like that, we’re in trouble. I think everyone in this field is in trouble.
“I think I was hitting it a little bit better last year, but we can find a way. I think I’m putting well enough that it doesn’t matter, making a lot of long putts. I haven’t had any really close looks, which is okay, but that will come. If I just keep firing at it, I think I’ll hit something eventually. The one I hit the closest hit the pin.