BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — British Open champion Cameron Smith had a topsy-turvy round of 2-under 69 on Saturday to take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the Australian PGA.
Smith had six birdies and four bogeys — including two in a row on 11 and 12 that saw his lead reduced to just one — before another bogey on the 18th to finish the hot and gusty day with a 54-hole total of 11-under 202 at Royal Queensland.
Liu Yanwei (70) of China and Masahiro Kawamura (71) of Japan were tied for second. Four others, including Australians Min Woo Lee (68) and second-round leader Jason Scrivener (74) were at 7-under and four behind Smith.
“It was a bit frustrating on that back nine, but in these conditions I would have taken 2-under,” Smith said. “I was really hot on that front nine, felt really good. It’s just frustrating to end like that. I’d like to be six or seven ahead to be honest . . . but I can’t complain.”
Lee said the combination of wind and slick greens made scoring difficult.
“When the wind blows like that, it doesn’t matter how good you are, it’s going to be tough, and putting is another thing,” Lee said. “It’s absolutely crazy (on the greens). A bit of luck involved. Skill obviously, but luck’s needed.”
Marc Leishman shot 70 and was at 2-under and Adam Scott — with his old-but-new-again caddie Steve Williams — had a 74 and was at -1 and 10 behind Smith.
Smith led by three strokes after nine holes Saturday after starting the day one shot behind Scrivener. But Smith had a two-shot lead an hour later thanks to a two-shot swing on the fourth hole.
Smith had birdied the second and then put his approach to the par-3 fourth within a meter of the flag, while Scrivener was unable to get up and down from the bunker.
The two-time former Australian PGA winner then birdied the sixth and seventh holes to build a four-shot lead before making bogey on the ninth when he sliced his drive. Smith recovered to the fairway, put his third shot into a deep greenside bunker and then missed his putt for par.
Scrivener dropped three shots on the front nine as his pursuit of a first title since 2017 stalled.
Smith, Scott and Leishman are among those who will play two weeks in a row in Australia. Next week they are scheduled to play in the historic Australian Open when the men’s and women’s championships will be decided at the same time.
The men and women will play in alternate groups at two courses — Victoria and Kingston Heath — over the first two days, with Victoria Golf Club set to host the final two rounds.
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