DEFENDING champion Adam Scott has claimed a share of the lead after two rounds of the Australian Masters at Royal Melbourne.
Chasing his second straight win, after triumphing in last week's Australian PGA, the world No.2 shot a five-under-par second round of 67 on Friday to move to nine under overall.
That put him level with 22-year-old Victorian Nathan Holman, who was looking forward to taking on his idol on the weekend.
South Australian Nick Cullen, who led overnight, and Victoria's Matthew Griffin, were tied for second on eight under.
Holman and Griffin both live just minutes from a course they have played often and both shot 65s on Friday.
American world No.8 Matt Kuchar was alone in fifth place on five under par.
Scott, who started his round five shots behind Holman, who was already in the clubhouse, quickly made ground, with birdies on each of the first three holes.
His momentum stalled, with pars on the next 11 holes, as he narrowly missed several birdie putts along the way.
But he managed to keep his card free of bogeys and was eventually rewarded with another birdie on the par-five 15th, after a comfortable two-putt from off the front of the green.
Scott joined the lead with another birdie on the 17th, after a fine approach, then narrowly missed a birdie putt, which would have given him the outright lead, on the last.
Kuchar, by far the highest-ranked player in the field apart from Scott, started his day superbly, after sitting on even par overnight.
He birdied the first four holes and picked up two more shots on the front nine, which he completed in just 29 strokes.
A three-putt double-bogey on the 13th set him back.
He regained lost ground two holes later, when he sunk an enormous eagle putt on the 15th.
But he dropped another shot on the 16th.
Earlier, Jarrod Lyle backed up his opening round one-over-par 72 with a 71 on Friday morning to leave himself one over at the tournament's halfway mark.
That means he'll achieve his pre-event aim of making the cut in what is his first professional event in 20 months, after fighting cancer for the second time in his life.
But former champions Craig Parry and Bradley Hughes are among those who won't make the weekend.
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