by Martin Blake @ The Lakes
Max McCardle on his way to a 6-under 66 in The Lakes.
For a long time at The Lakes on day two of the #AusOpenGolf, Matt Kuchar and David Micheluzzi had it for themselves. Then came Byeong Hun An with a hole-in-one, the thunderbolt on the 15th that changed everything, and Max McCardle almost all trumpped them all.
The two South Australian McCardle birds to finish on the eighth and ninth hole came after the majority of the crowd got out and the television coverage stopped. It gave him a share in the halfway lead with An from South Korea on eight-sided
It is not the first time that McCardle has fought in an Open; in 2013 at Royal Sydney he was in the mix until a few big names in Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott left, and he finished 10th. But it is safe to say that he is not an understanding of world rankings no. 1062.
He played the biggest part of this year at the PGA Tour China and he has never won a tournament as a professional. His biggest victory remains the South Australian amateur in 2010 and a triple pro-am in Port Hedland on sand scab. He comes from Goolwa, at the mouth of the Murray, and in his early days he worked as a mechanic and a dock hand to pay his bills and follow his dream.
Was he surprised? "Maybe to lead," he said. "I absolutely felt like I was playing well, for whatever reason only, not four rounds together."
His end was the key; he made a three meter birdie pit at the eighth and then at the short, par-three ninth, he ran out of the deep grass around the edge of the green for a walk-off birdie. "It was a bit of a fluke," he said. "It was just over the bunker, I had no posture, I had to cut my putter, and it went in. I just tried to get it within two meters and it went in. That was cool."
The Korean An, who lives in the United States and plays on the PGA Tour, sleeps on the line for a second consecutive night in Sydney. He scored a 69 today without being satisfied with his round, but a hole-in-one certainly helps.
It came on the 180 meter 15th hole, with a pure seven iron that bounced just before the green, kicked forward and into the cup. It was his third hole-in-one for the career and earned him a $ 16,000 Tag Heuer watch as a prize.
"It was a little soft cut there," he said. "I hit it well, everything was perfect, nicely fading from the left edge of the green to the hole. And it went inside! & # 39; & # 39;
The group directly behind An and McCardle is led by 40-year-old Kuchar, who today had 67 in conditions that he found much easier, and also includes 22-year-old Micheluzzi, the reigning Victorian amateur champion and grandson of Italian emigrants taking his first start in his national Open. Queenslander Jake McLeod, winner of NSW Open last week, is only a shot from the lead in that bunch.
As for Micheluzzi, he admitted that he was "pretty angry" that he was skipped last year for an invitation and that he counted this time. From the back nine he went from birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie from the 12th to the 15th and on the nine-under, had a three-lead.
Then the reality check. His second shot on the 17th went into water; his tee shot on the par-three 18th disappeared into deep fescue next to the green, and his tee-shot on the first hole flared away right. Each time he gave a shot, but he was difficult to place 69 with six consecutive pars to close
No amateur has won the #AusOpenGolf since Aaron Baddeley in 1999 in Royal Sydney, one of the most famous moments of the Australian golf. Micheluzzi did not even bother to pretend that the comparison with Baddeley had gone his head
"There are nerves," he said afterwards. "There must be nerves, because it clearly means something to me Playing in an Australian Open is just great I dreamed of since I was a small child This is my first, so the nerves are still there, but I try to do everything just to try and avoid my thoughts and just play golf, which I really enjoyed today. & # 39;
It was a much friendlier day at The Lakes and the score reflected it. On Thursday, the average was 74.3; today it was cut to 72.4.
Among those who sneaked into the cut-line were defending champion Cameron Davis, top ranked Australian Cameron Smith and the American Brandt Snedeker, all at one more than par.