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Friday, 30 November 2018
Cameron Smith  (Getty Images)
Cameron Smith (Getty Images)

Defending champion Cameron Smith carded a brilliant 65 on day two of the Australian PGA Championship to take a one-shot lead into the weekend at RACV Royal Pines Resort.

The home favourite is looking to become the first player to successfully defend the title since Robert Allenby in 2001 and he was nine under at the top of a leaderboard dominated by Australians.

Marc Leishman and Jake McLeod led the chasing pack, one shot clear of countrymen Matt Jager, Dimitrios Papadatos and Christopher Wood.

Smith made seven birdies in his first ten holes and while McLeod opened up a two-shot lead on the back nine, a late stumble handed the initiative back to Smith.

"It was good," he said. "I thought I struck it nicely yesterday and the putts weren't quite going in. I just didn't quite have the speed yesterday.

"I did a little bit of extra work this morning on the green and it paid off. I was actually getting putts to the hole today, which is nice.

"I was just trying to do my best. I decided I wanted to get to ten, that was kind of my goal before Friday's end, so one off is not too bad. Seven under, you can never complain about seven under."

McLeod leads the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit and a win this week could secure him his European Tour playing privileges, while Leishman is looking for a first top tier win on home soil.

Papadatos bogeyed the second but birdied the fourth, sixth and eighth to get to seven under and while a bogey on the ninth dropped him back, a birdie on the 12th helped him set the clubhouse target from the early starters.

He was soon joined by McLeod after an approach to five feet at the first, and Leishman made a hot start to make it a three-way tie.

The World Number 21 birdied the first and holed an 18-footer on the second before another gain on the seventh moved him into a share of top spot.

He led on his own after an eight-foot putt on the eighth but found water on the ninth to drop back into the group at seven under where he was alongside a charging Smith.

The 25 year old birdied the first and third but bogeyed the fourth before making a hat-trick of gains, with a 20-footer on the fifth, a stunning approach to the sixth and a six-footer on the seventh.

A birdie on the par-five ninth had him in a share of top spot and when he holed from 12 feet at the tenth, Smith held the lead on his own.

McLeod holed a monster on the eighth to join him, only to drop a shot on the next before picking it straight back up on the tenth and adding another birdie on the 11th.

Smith hit back with a birdie on the 15th but McLeod was not in the mood to be caught and hit a wonderful second into the par-five 12th for an eagle and a two-shot lead.

Leishman birdied the 13th and 15th to join Smith at nine under but dropped a shot on the 16th, with McLeod making bogey on the 13th. A McLeod double on the 17th then put Smith into the lead on his own.

Jager sandwiched birdies on the fifth, ninth and 17th with bogeys on the second and last, while Wood made seven birdies and a single bogey.

American Harold Varner III - the 2017 champion -  was at six under, a shot clear of India's Gaganjeet Bhullar, England's Andrew Johnston, and Australians David Bransdon, Paul Hayden and Anthony Quayle.

Darren Beck made the first hole-in-one of the 2019 season as he aced the par-three fifth from 190 yards with a seven iron.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1SMITH, CameronAUS18-16
2LEISHMAN, MarcAUS18-14
T3McGOWAN, RossENG18-11
T3MILLAR, MatthewAUS18-11
5EOM, JaewoongKOR18-7
T6SCRIVENER, JasonAUS18-6

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