The engravers are likely investigating tonight whether Jed Morgan would prefer the shortened form of his first name, or the full Jediah inscribed on the Joe Kirkwood trophy.
Royal Queensland’s own put on another masterful display around his home track on Saturday, signing for a six-under 65, the equal best round of the day with fellow Queenslander Lawry Flynn. Morgan now sitting at 20-under-par for the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship with a nine-shot lead over Andrew Dodt with 18 hoes to play.
Of course, it isn’t over till the ball is in the 72nd hole and the signature applied to the scorecard on Sunday, but given how the 2020 Australian Amateur champion has played so far this week, even his closest competitor is almost ready to announce him the winner.
“Nine shots, that’s a lot, on his home course in front of his home fans,” Dodt said after his own 68 saw him finish one shot in front of Victorian David Micheluzzi. “It’s going to take a low round and potentially a not so good round on his behalf, but he’s full of confidence, he’s playing well, he’s holing putts. It’s going to be tough.”
Toughness and crowd support are two elements Morgan has in spades so far this week, even a slight, yet annoying, hiccup before the round was unable to unsettle the unflappable 22-year-old before the third round.
Morgan’s driver cracked while warming up on the range, but a replacement head was quickly found in the Royal Queensland Pro Shop minutes before his tee time.
“Lucky I just got one out of one of the boxes they had in the storeroom,” Morgan nonchalantly said of the driver. “I wasn’t too concerned. You can play around here with a 3-wood but driver obviously helps you take it apart a bit better.”
The 54-hole leader continued to play the Mike Clayton designed layout on the banks of the Brisbane River as if out for the Chook Run with his fellow members on Saturday in hot conditions that he admitted made him feel a little “queasy” at times.
Morgan had a clean card going again after Friday’s bogey-free course record 63, before a bogey at the par-4 18th, his first in 40 holes, gave the chasing pack some remote hope that the tournament and $180,000 first place isn’t completely out of reach.
RIGHT: David Micheluzzi got hot on Saturday afternoon, making five birdies. PHOTO: PGA Tour of Australasia.
The most likely challenger on Saturday afternoon appeared Micheluzzi, who rattled off five birdies on the run starting at the par-4 12th, but he admitted a solid finish to help his order of merit standing and bank balance is now the real focus heading to Sunday after finishing at 10-under, 10 in arrears of Morgan.
“I think just have a good finish,” Micheluzzi said. “I think win, lose, whatever, all I want to do is shoot four-, five-under tomorrow. If a few more putts go in, hopefully in the low 60s, but I just want to stick to my game plan. That’s the biggest goal I want to achieve this week.”
Morgan’s goals for the week might have shifted a little after his play over the first three rounds, with the 72-hole tournament scoring record of 22-under by Nick O’Hern and Peter Lonard in 2006 more than likely to tumble. And a margin of victory like Ian Baker-Finch’s 13 shots at the 1984 NSW Open over Peter Senior well and truly in reach.
“It’s nice but anything happens in golf, so it doesn’t change a thing,” he said of his lead. “It doesn’t really move me one way or the other, it just makes me kind of want to win by more if I can and yeah, it helps obviously, but just going to try and do the same thing as I’ve done, because it’s obviously working.”
“I might get in an ice bath, have a good dinner, go to bed pretty early, wake up, do it all again. Keen for it.” - Jed Morgan.
Those chasing Morgan, including fellow ‘RQ’ member Jake McLeod (-9) and round one leader Louis Dobbelaar (-8) might consider Morgan’s description of what he is doing as “working” the clubhouse leader for understatement of the year.
However, the claim and laid-back delivery perfectly encapsulates Morgan, and just why so many have high hopes for his future in the game. A young up and coming star potentially winning one of Australian golf’s biggest trophies at 22 exactly why so many have been keen to run tournaments in this country even without our biggest names.
And if Morgan gets his wish for more of the same tomorrow, it would be in spectacular fashion.
“I might get in an ice bath, have a good dinner, go to bed pretty early, wake up, do it all again,” he said of his Saturday night plans. “Keen for it.”