Cameron Smith says he was “still a bit asleep” after an early start to his second round but roused himself for a share of second place at the Hong Kong Open on Friday.
The 2022 Open champion, the joint overnight leader in the $2-million Asian Tour International Series event, carded six birdies against two bogeys for four-under-par 66.
The Australian was alongside South Korea’s Bae Sang-moon on 11 under overall at the halfway stage at a sweltering Fanling, a shot behind leader Phachara Khongwatmai of Thailand.
The 30-year-old Smith, one of the biggest names to make the jump to the lucrative Saudi-backed LIV Golf Tour, was out for his second round starting at 6:45am.
“The 3:30 alarm this morning was a little bit much,” said Smith, who is chasing victory at Asia’s oldest professional golf tournament for the first time.
“The body wasn’t quite there this morning, it was probably still a little bit asleep. But I managed to do what I really needed to do and go into the weekend with a shot.”
Asked by AFP if he planned to practise in the afternoon, Smith said he was instead going to have a nap.
Phachara goes into the weekend top of the leaderboard after shooting a seven-under-par 63 to go with his opening-round 65.
Lee Chieh-po was among a group of five players on 10 under overall, two shots off the lead, the Taiwanese claiming an ace on the way to a second-round 65.
Major winners Graeme McDowell and Patrick Reed both in the hunt, lurking ominously at eight under and seven under respectively.
Jbe Kruger is the best-placed South African, on seven under, after a round of 66 on Friday that included five birdies and a bogey.
Australia’s Wade Ormsby, who won Asia’s oldest professional golf tournament the last time it was staged, in 2020, missed the cut as his title defence fell flat.
© Agence France-Presse
Photo: Peter Parks/AFP