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Aussie Tour Qualifying reaches halfway stage

Lee has a narrow lead through 36 holes. (Photo: Henry Peters)
Fiji’s Sam Lee has tamed blustery, turbulent conditions to stand atop the leaderboard at the halfway stage of the Australasian Tour’s Final Stage of Qualifying School in Victoria.

Lee added a second round of 71 to his opening 64 at Moonah Links' Open Course on the Mornington Peninsula to lead by one over NSW’s Jordan Mullaney whose main claim to fame thus far has been as the brother of Parramatta Eels player Jake Mullaney.

Korean born but a Fiji citizen, Lee, has struggled to find his feet on the Australasian Tour to date but with that experience behind him he has so far handled the pressure involved in the qualifying process.

Mullaney played events on the Australasian and a development tour in Europe in 2017 with little success, making the cut in just two of 10 events in Australasia and producing a very similar effort in Europe.

Victorian amateur Anthony Marchesani, whose brother James plays the Australasian Tour after a collegiate career in the US and who finished runner-up in Fiji this year, is alone in third position this week and if he is able to continue on from this good start he will no doubt become a professional by week’s end.

First round co-leader Nick Flanagan was 10 shots worse than his opening 64 but is tied for 4th and well placed to gain a card to play the Australasian Tour in 2018 and resurrect a career which held so much promise before injury and other issues curtailed the 2003 US Amateur champion's progress.

Aaron Townsend - a multiple winner of Von Nida Tour events and Australasian Tour events - is tied for 4th with Flanagan.

The leading 40 players at the completion of 72 holes on Friday secure the right to play the Australasian Tour next year but the further up the list they can finish then the better their chances of starts in the bigger events as the season progresses.

BRETT RUMFORD: SHORT GAME GURU

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