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Amateur Smyth takes commanding lead at NT PGA

(Photo: Pga of Australia)
Wollongong amateur Travis Smyth has taken a commanding lead at the NT PGA, the 22-year-old continuing to play with maturity beyond his years with a third round 66 at Palmerston Golf Club.

Smyth has raced to 11-under-par, four clear of nearest rivals Marcus Both, Darren Beck and defending champion and fellow Wollongong product Jordan Zunic.

After impressing with opening rounds of 64-68, Smyth stamped his authority on the tournament in round three and will now face the most testing round of his young career tomorrow.

A quarter-finalist at this year’s US Amateur, Smyth is no stranger to playing under pressure but also realizes tomorrow will be another level again.

“I will probably feel a little bit nervous but I am playing the golf course so great I feel like it’s hard to get negative about my game.,” he said after signing his card.

“I am going to have a nice cruisy afternoon, relax and come out firing tomorrow morning.

“I am playing great golf, hitting really straight, I haven’t really been too flustered on the golf course, I am hitting it in a lot of really good positions and the putts are going in.

“It feels kind of easy and I hope tomorrow is exactly the same.”

Smyth came out firing on day three with birdies at his first two holes then closed out the front nine with two more.

He added one more at the par-5 13th and with no dropped shots stormed clear of the field.

“I got off to a good start, I wasn’t feeling nervous, but making birdie on the first two holes definitely made me feel more relaxed,” he said.

“Good shots kept flowing. I really only hit two bad shots that I wasn’t really happy with and somehow managed to make par on both of those.”

While his lead is significant Smyth won’t have it all his own way Sunday with several more experienced campaigners chasing him.

Both is a multiple winner on the Asian Tour and while his recent form has been less than his best a 7-under 64 Saturday says all elements of his game are in good shape.

Zunic will likely pose the biggest threat after a second consecutive 67 on a course he has shown a liking for while Max McCardle and Deyen Lawson, five behind Smyth and sharing fifth, are not out of the reckoning either.

Overnight co-leader Frazer Droop couldn’t maintain the momentum of his Friday 63 and was 10 shots worse Saturday to slip to T7 and six off the pace.

WEEKEND PINS -9TH AT PALMER COOLUM: