Min Woo Lee turned on the fireworks today to take a three-stroke lead going into the weekend at the Australian Open in Sydney.
Min Woo Lee turned on a human highlight reel for the crowd while Jiyai Shin was steady and relentless as the two superstars – one established, one emerging — rose to the top on day two of the ISPS HANDA Australian Open in Sydney today.
The 25-year-old Lee’s star has risen rapidly in recent times and after his remarkable back nine on his way to a 64 at The Australian today, his fame will only grow.
At 12-under, he leads the Open by three shots from Scotland’s Connor Syme at 9-under through 36 holes.
Perth’s Lee completed the back nine in just 30 shots with four birdies and a box office eagle at the par-5 18th to finish the day.
Apparently in trouble when his tee shot stopped in pine straw left of the 18th fairway, Lee hit a hard-drawing 9-iron approach out over the water that guards the green, on to the putting surface and corkscrewing left to finish just a few centimetres from the cup.
It was the moment of the week and maybe of the whole summer.
“Had a really good number for a 9-iron, like really big 9-iron, and I’ve been hitting draws all week and it kind of sat up really nicely,” he said later.
“I saw the (TV) 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.”
He is aiming to be the first player to win the PGA and the Open in the same year since Greg Chalmers in 2011 and his profile and popularity suggest that tens of thousands of fans will be out at The Australian this weekend to see if he can achieve it.
Overnight leader Cam Davis fell away with a second-round 74, but major champion Cameron Smith showed some better signs with a second-round 69.
Two-time major champion and former world No. 1 Shin’s second-round was ignited by three birdies in four holes between the 14th and 17th, and she will be difficult to shift from the top on the evidence of her 60-plus worldwide wins including the 2013 Women’s Australian Open.
First-round joint leader Rachel Lee could not maintain her impetus and a second-round 79 saw her tumble outside the top 10.
The top Australian is Queensland amateur Justice Bosio, the 19-year-old shooting 4-under at The Lakes to move up to fourth overall.
“Super excited,” said Bosio, who has twice been runner-up at the Australian Amateur.
“Yeah, excited to just go out there and hopefully play as good as I have the last two days.”
There are two other Australian amateurs in contention after round two – South Australia’s Caitlin Peirce and Queensland’s Sarah Hammett, just 16 years of age, at 3-under par.
Two Australians – Cameron Pollard and Lachlan Wood — have a share of the lead in the Australian All Abilities Championship with one round remaining.
They are joined by perennial star Brendan Lawlor from Ireland.
The 2023 ISPS HANDA Australian Open will be televised live this weekend by Nine from 1pm.