Smylie leads, Lyras sets course record at Townsville Classic - PGA of Australia

Smylie leads, Lyras sets course record at Townsville Classic

Queenslander Elvis Smylie has a one-stroke advantage after John Lyras broke the course record on a day of low scores at the Lexus Townsville Classic at Townsville Golf Club.

Playing in the same group as Round 1 leader Andrew Campbell, Smylie began the day three back but had drawn level by the time the pair walked off the fifth green.

The talented left-hander edged one clear with a birdie on six, had Campbell draw level on seven before he took a one-stroke lead into the back nine with a birdie at the par-4 ninth.

He and Campbell both made birdie at the short par-4 10th before Smylie built a handy buffer with an eagle at the par-5 14th.

A final birdie at the par-5 16th saw Smylie sign for a round of 6-under 65 and two-round total of 10-under, one clear of Lyras (61) with Campbell (70) a shot further back in outright third at 8-under.

Now in his third year as a professional, Smylie is still chasing that elusive first win but knows he need not veer from the game-plan on Saturday to break through.

“I felt like I gave myself a lot of looks at birdies and a couple of greens are just tricky and hard to read,” said Smylie, who will shortly head to Europe to play on the secondary Challenge Tour.

“I felt like if I just keep knocking them close and giving myself chances, I’ll have a good shot tomorrow.

“I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing.”

In what may be a good omen as he seeks to close out a maiden win on Saturday, it was late in the round where Smylie made his move.

An aggressive tee shot set up an eagle from 12 feet on the par-5 14th and a monster drive on 16 left Smylie with just a 46-degree wedge into the final par 5 on the golf course.

“I felt like you have a really good chance at making some shots up against the field, especially 16,” Smylie said of the finish at Townsville.

“The wind was playing straight down fan today, so I was hitting a 46-degree wedge into there. I feel like if you are not making four, you’re losing shots against the field.

“My game-plan tomorrow is just go and attack the par 5s I have been and then leaving myself on the right side of the holes with the shorter holes.

“I feel like I’m driving it well so if I can give myself nice little chips from the right areas around the short par 4s, I think I’ll do a good job tomorrow.”

Lyras’s hopes of contending looked slim when he played his first four holes in 5-over par in Round 1.

The New South Welshman fought back to end day one at 1-over and then went on a tear on Friday.

He had 10 birdies and no bogeys to set a new benchmark of 10-under at Townsville, making birdie at each of his final four holes to keep the heat on Smylie.

“Very different round of golf, very different start,” Lyras said post-round.

“Hit two beautiful shots into number one and that kind of kick-started the round.

“It was still tough to make putts but I was fortunate to give myself a lot of really short birdie putts today.

“That was very important out there given the wind and how difficult it was to make putts from length.”

As a teaser to the large crowd that gathered on Friday afternoon, Lyras lit up the par-3 18th with a lasered 4-iron to close with a birdie and set a new course record.

“That birdie on 18 was phenomenal,” he added.

“I was tossing and turning between 4 and 5-iron and I just committed to hitting like a punchy, cutty 4-iron that held up against the wind.

“It couldn’t have come out any better and rolled in a really nice seven-foot putt for birdie.

“That was a cherry on top of a really good day out there.”

The final round will begin at 7:15am on Saturday with the Smylie and Lyras to tee off on the first hole at 12:15pm.

Round 2 scores

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