He's still feeling a bit clogged up, but drawcard Thomas Pieters looms as the man to beat as the third round gets underway at the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth.
Pieters arrived in Western Australia battling a virus, and on the eve of the tournament said it would be a mini feat in itself just to make it to the first tee in his opening round.
The World No.79 looked fatigued and sat at two-over after 12 holes on Thursday after posting consecutive double bogeys. But four birdies over his six holes saw him finish the opening day at two-under.
A good night's sleep proved the difference yesterday, Pieters producing the goods in his second round, posting a six-under 66 to move to eight-under overall and into a share of the lead with Victorian Matthew Griffin, Kiwi Ryan Fox, and Thailand's Panuphol Pittayarat.
The quartet well placed to make the third-round cut of the top-24, who will then battle it out in a series of head-to-head six-hole shootouts on Sunday, with the last man standing crowned the winner of the $1.6 million tri-sanctioned tournament.
“I felt a lot better when I woke up. Still congested and all, but no, I felt better today and it showed in my game and my patience,” Pieters said after finishing among the last groups on Friday.
RIGHT: Fox is hoping for a better Saturday showing in Perth. PHOTO: PGA of Australia.
“I putted really well, and that was a key today.
“That was tough to take (consecutive double bogeys Thursday). So to be at eight under now is a bonus.”
Griffin shot a five-under 67 in his second round and is set to pay extra attention to the six hole loop to be used in the match play round on Sunday during his third round today.
“The leaderboard is really tight, so you're going to have to play good golf to make sure you get through it,” Griffin said.
“It's not going to be a walk in the park. But you do, given the circumstances, you do take a little bit more notice of those holes that will be there on Sunday.”
For his part, Fox is hoping for a better Saturday than in previous years at this event.
“Just like to make it to Sunday,” Fox said. “Hasn't really been kind to me, this three round cut thing the last couple years. It's nice to be in a good position after two days.
“So certainly no taking the foot off the pedal there and just got to go and try to make some birdies and try to finish as high as possible.”
West Australian Matt Jager sits alongside Richard McEvoy and Robert Macintyre a further shot back, with the former Australian Amateur champion confident that his prior match play experience could help him on Sunday if he puts another good round on the board this morning.
“I haven't got to play match play in long time, but good record as an amateur with match play,” Jager said. “Since they changed the rule with pennant in Vic of the pros playing, that's probably the last time I got to play any match play. So it would be nice to sort of get out there and go head to head. Six holes, you've got to start making birdies right from the get go.”
Pieters’ fellow headliner Geoff Ogilvy missed the cut after shooting a five-over 77 on Friday, taking his overall tally to nine-over, while rising star Min Woo Lee is lurking dangerously at five-under.
-Additional reporting Jimmy Emanuel