Chris Duke, a champion in 2016 on Hamilton Island, has shot a round of 2-under 69 to capture the lead at the PGA Professionals Championship.
Starting from the first tee, Duke reeled off four birdies on what he feels is the place to attack on the tough Peter Thomson designed course.
“I still think the front-9 is the easier of the two, so knowing what’s to come later in the round you’ve got to make the most of it,” said Duke.
“I hit all the greens in regulation for nine chances at birdie and knocked a couple in.”
The field was presented with a northerly wind today which proved a challenge to many; Duke said his experience in this event played to his strengths.
“It was definitely challenging especially when you come in thinking you’ve got the right club and then you’ve got to change your whole strategy.
“I’m fortunate to have played here enough to know most of the winds you tend to get but it was definitely a change of scene today.”
Duke will enter the final round with a one shot lead and sees no reason why he can’t make a tilt at a second Dan Cullen Cup and Australian PGA Championship appearance.
“There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be confident I’m keeping the ball in play and striking it pretty cleanly so if I can keep getting a few red numbers on the card hopefully I’m in the mix.”
Right on Duke’s tail is the well traveled former tour professional Scott Laycock who shot 1-under 70 to sit just one shot off the lead.
The ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, Japan Tour and Asian Tour winner was on track for a great round before an errant drive stalled his momentum.
“I played really well today, just one bad tee shot. I had probably six other chances within 10 feet and didn’t make those and I was still 4-under standing on the 17th tee,” said Laycock who is currently working as a Teaching Professional at Pakenham Golf Club.
“I hit one poor drive there and could only hack it out then three-putted for a double then I hit a good drive into the last and it just ran into another hazard so I had another bogey there.
“It leaves a bit of a sour taste but I’m happy where I’m at.”
In outright third position is Jamie Hook who shot 2-under 69 to sit at even par for the tournament. He too slipped up on the pen-ultimate hole at Hamilton Island before bouncing back with a birdie on the last.
“I got off to a slow start, I was 1-over through four holes but I was able to take advantage of those par-5’s down breeze today and after a disaster on seven yesterday I managed to sneak a birdie in there to head into the back-9 in a good position,” said Hook.
“I made a few pars through that tough stretch on the back-9 but had a bad drive on 17 and bad third shot for a triple but a made a nice birdie on the 18th to finish.
“Only a couple back and looking forward to tomorrow.”
Hook said he’s made an effort this year to play tournament golf with a number of Ladbrokes Pro-Am Series events under his belt and four appearances on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia including a top-10 finish in the MMC Northern Territory PGA Championship. A great achievement given he doesn’t hold a playing category for the Tour.
“My game has been good, I’ve been putting in a fair bit of effort this year, over the last couple of years I haven’t put in as much as I would have liked to.
“So a bit more work and trying to play as much golf as I can and it’s been good, it definitely helps for this event.”
Chris Akers, Marco Zirov and Anthony Choat are tied for fourth position at 2-over, the next best placed professionals three shots further back at 5-over.
For the full leaderboard, visit pga.org.au.
The leading group of Chris Duke, Scott Laycock and Jamie Hook will tee off at 9:05am.
For round three tee times, visit pga.org.au.
The PGA Professionals Championship is played for a total prize pool of $55,000. The winner and leading male receives a spot in the 2018 Australian PGA Championship, the leading female receives a spot in the 2019 Vic Open.
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