MELBOURNE (Reuters) – China’s Yuan Yechun stormed to the top of the leaderboard with a seven-under-par 65 at the Australian PGA Championship on Friday, as local favorite Adam Scott lurked two strokes behind after the second round.
Yuan, who turned professional last year, mixed eight birdies and an eagle on the par-five ninth with three bogeys on the back nine at Royal Pines Resort for a nine-under 135 total midway through the A$1.5 million ($1.03 million) event.
Back-to-back bogeys on 15 and 16 saw the 22-year-old from Dalian lose the outright lead but he regained it with a birdie on the par-four 17th to finish a stroke ahead of Australian Anthony Quayle.
Scott, the 2013 winner, capitalized on calm morning conditions to post a 67, including four birdies and an eagle on the par-five 15th, to sit a stroke further back with compatriot Wade Ormsby on seven-under.
“It was a good morning for scoring, but the pins, you had to really dial it in to get it close,” said 39-year-old former Masters champion Scott.
“It was kind of a nice, patient round. Good solid stuff and eventually I sort of wore the course down.”
Cameron Smith, seeking a hat-trick of titles at the European Tour co-sanctioned event, soared back into contention with a blemish-free 65 to trail Yuan by four strokes.
Smith said a trip to the beach had refreshed his mind after a poor opening round of 74 on Thursday.
“I kind of thought it would be a good idea to kind of get away and kind of forget about it,” said the 26-year-old.
“It’s amazing what a day can do in the game of golf, I suppose.”
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford