Ryan Fox and Matthew Griffin will use the disappointment of past near-misses to keep the foot to the floor having shot to the top of the leaderboard midway through the second round of the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth tournament.
Using what will likely prove to be the better side of the draw to their advantage, Fox and Griffin were out early on Friday and added to solid starts on Thursday with rounds of 68 and 67 respectively to be 8-under through 36 holes and level with Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat on top.
The top-65 and ties on Friday will advance to Saturday’s third round after which the top-24 will qualify for the match play knockout phase on Sunday.
Fox has failed to qualify for the match play by a single shot each of the past two years so is determined to be inside the top eight at the end of the third round and earn a first round bye for Sunday.
“It hasn't really been kind to me, this three-round cut thing the last couple of years,” said Fox, who also missed out on the match play section of the Belgian Knockout last year in a playoff.
“It's nice to be in a good position after two days but certainly not taking the foot off the pedal.
“Just got to go and try to make some birdies and try to finish as high as possible.
“There is a little bit of a bonus for finishing in that top eight, getting the first round off, and I'll certainly be aiming for that. Hopefully a little higher than that tomorrow.
“Who knows what this afternoon will bring but it looks like I'm going to be in a pretty good place.”
Playing the back nine first, Fox made the turn at 2-under and missed birdie opportunities at one and two before three-putting for par having reached the 507-metre par-5 third in two.
He joined a six-way tie for the lead with a birdie at the fourth hole but then gave a shot back at six when a wild tee shot left put him out of position, the 32-year-old unable to get up and down from the bunker.
A birdie at the par-5 seventh, a spectacular sand save at eight and a birdie to close at nine elevated him to top spot alongside Griffin and Pittayarat.
“I didn't drive it very well today, but I scored nicely. Short game was really good,” said Fox.
“There are some chances out here, especially this morning when there was no wind.
“I holed a couple of nice putts coming home on seven and nine to turn what was looking like a pretty average day into a good day.”
Griffin’s round of 5-under 67 gathered momentum on the back of three consecutive birdies from the 13th to the 15th hole but unlike Fox was unable to turn good looks at seven and nine into birdies at the tail end of his round.
A member of the 2008 Australian team that contested the Eisenhower Trophy in Adelaide, Griffin was proficient in match play as an amateur and believes he can make some inroads if he can qualify for the top-24.
“I always felt like I play my best golf in match play so if I can get into the match play on Sunday, I'll give myself a good chance,” said the 2016 New Zealand Open champion.
“When you get into a format that you like, it always gives you that little boost.
“I probably always tend to drive the ball pretty straight and putt reasonably well, so I think that matches up well in match play.”
The biggest move of the morning came from young Scotsman Grant Forrest.
Tied for 22nd at last week’s Vic Open, Forrest bounced back from an opening round of 74 to shoot 7-under 67 to be in position to qualify for the match play for the second straight year, the highlight an eagle at the par-5 15th.
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