Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat, New Zealander Ryan Fox, Australian Matthew Griffin and Belgium’s Thomas Pieters hold a one-shot lead over the improving Australian Matt Jager, Scotland’s Robert McIntyre and England’s Richard McEvoy, the players now gearing themselves to finish inside the top 24 at the end of play tomorrow to ensure they have a place in the knockout six hole series.
A large group at 6 under and just two from the lead includes last week’s Victorian Open runner-up, Spain’s Adrian Otaegui, American Benny Henson, New Zealander Ben Campbell and France’s Clement Sordet.
While there is a purse for the leading players through 54 holes the object of the exercise tomorrow is to ensure you are inside the top 24 and importantly inside the top eight as they sit out the top opening round of the match play and await the winners of round one.
“I played really nice yesterday in some tough conditions and today was a little bit scrappy,” said Fox.
“But we had some pretty nice conditions this morning, greens were perfect. No wind around here makes the course pretty scorable, so it was nice to take advantage of that and be in a good place for tomorrow.
“The last couple years I've eyed that top 24 from sort of around the morning and it hasn't worked out very well for me. I'll try to aim a little higher this year and see what happens. It looks like it might blow tomorrow afternoon as well, so might be a case of just trying to hang on.”
Pieters is one of the highest ranked players in this week’s field and looms not only as a threat to the 54 hole event but to the event overall.
He is well enough placed to make the match-play field, but he is not taking anything for granted.
“People can shoot low tomorrow and the cut-off for 24th place could be six, seven under, said the three-time European Tour winner. “So maybe I'm a couple shots in, but if you get careless, then I think you can drop a lot of spots easily.
“I think I'm going to go out there tomorrow and act like it's a stroke play event, and you always want to be in the first place. If you're not, I don't think you're mentally taking it the right way."
The cut fell at 1 under with notables to miss the weekend including Lucas Herbert, Dimi Papadatos and the man who recorded nine consecutive birdies last week, James Nitties.
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