Defending champion Cameron Smith called it “unacceptable” after missing the cut by nine shots at the Australian PGA Championship on Friday, as Min Woo Lee vaulted into the halfway lead.
On a day highlighted by Curtis Luck firing a hole-in-one, former world No 2 Smith slumped to a horror 78 which left him nine-over-par and 21 shots off the pace in front of his home crowd in Brisbane.
“Australia has been so good to me, there’s no reason to perform like that. Unacceptable,” said Smith, the 2022 Open champion.
Now playing on the lucrative Saudi-backed LIV Golf Tour, the Australian struggled for control off the tee to make just one birdie, with a bogey at the last summing up his day.
In contrast, compatriot Lee rattled off six birdies against one bogey in a five-under-par 66 to be 12 under for the tournament after round two at the opening event of the DP World Tour’s 2024 season.
Veteran Adam Scott went one better with a 65 to be a shot adrift at the Royal Queensland Golf Club as he targets a 32nd title of his career.
“Overall, really happy with the way I went, very solid and doing the right things today,” said Lee, who is chasing a third win on the European circuit following victory at the 2020 Vic Open and Scottish Open a year later.
He will be grouped on Saturday with Scott, who won the title in 2013 and 2019 and is in good late-season form after finishing fifth at the US PGA Tour’s Bermuda Championship this month.
“It’s always nice to have a bogey-free round, I probably haven’t had many of them this year,” said the Australian Scott, who is winless since early 2020. “I feel like my swing from the tee to the green is feeling better than it has for a while and that’s a nice thing for me.”
Another Australian, John Lyras, is a shot further back, one clear of Spain’s Joel Moscatel, Lucas Herbert and Luck, who lived up to his name by acing the par-three 17th en route to a 67.
“Once I saw it land I was confident it was going to stick pretty close and then obviously I think it might have just spun back a little bit back in the hole,” said Luck. “Pretty electric stuff.”
Moscatel, in his first DP World Tour event, struggled to reproduce his spectacular day one form when he fired a 63 to equal the course record, settling for a 71 on a blustery day to stay in contention.
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