Australian golf young guns Justin Warren and Min Woo Lee have made twin bogeys on the 18th hole to tie for the lead in the penultimate round of the AVJennings NSW Open.
Playing in the second-last group after starting the day at 9-under, Warren stood on the 18th tee at 18-under the card and unbeknownst to him, tied for the lead alongside Lee.
An unruly tee shot luckily found the fairway to the left but a long second stroke went over the back of the green, forcing an extra shot than the 24-year-old would have liked.
To Warren’s fortune, Lee suffered a similar fate, albeit falling short of the pin to post a third round of 68.
The duo enters tomorrow’s final round at Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club tied at 17-under the card but just one stroke ahead of Travis Smyth and Josh Younger at 16-under.
“They describe it as being in the zone and that’s pretty much where I was for the first 14 holes,” Warren said.
“Everything was just straight at the flag and putts were rolling in from everywhere. It was awesome. I was 9-under through 13 and a good chance on 14, I just didn’t quite hit a great putt but it was very similar to the first day, I just really struck my ball well, put it in the right spots, holed some putts.
“I kind of struggled a little bit over the last few holes. I just wasn’t quite hitting it as close. There were some nerves out there, a bit of adrenaline, the ball just wasn’t quite going the same distance as it normally does.”
The 8-under 64 round is Warren’s second for the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia tournament but it was his front-nine again where his game came to life.
“I had four birdies in a row on 3, 4, 5 and 6 just playing really solid and made a couple of nice little 10 or 12 footers and a tap in here at there,” he said.
“I made a great par on 7, chipped in for par on 7, got a little unlucky off the tee and then made a solid par on 8 and then hit a good drive down 9, hit a 4-iron just straight into the middle of the green and had a great little read on it.
“Absolutely perfect speed and it just died in the front of the hole. I went to the 10th tee with a lot of confidence and a lot of momentum.”
Despite the 4-under round, Lee concedes his game wasn’t where he wanted it to be on Saturday but will work overnight to be in a position to challenge in the final round.
“I actually scored pretty well (but) I didn’t feel like I played good at all. I guess that’s a bit of confidence,” Lee said.
“I don’t feel good over the ball or over the putter at all today so hopefully I can fix that up in the next hour and then get it going tomorrow.
“The course was really nice today. Pins were in pretty tricky positions and you couldn’t leave it in certain spots. It was a nice challenge.”
With a stacked leaderboard behind him Lee insists it will be business as usual as he tries to extend his lead over the field.
“I’m pretty excited for tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll come out on top,” he said.
“Golf is, you just need to hit one shot at a time. Golf can change so quickly so you just need to keep your head in.
“Whoever plays the best I guess, like I said, you play your game.”
Travis Smyth and Josh Younger sit tied for third place at 16-under the card after firing rounds of 66 and 67 respectively.
Overnight leader Andrew Dodt battled throughout the third round, backing up his record-breaking 11-under with even-par for 14-under the card and fifth position.
The round was highlighted by a hole-in-one by Aaron Townsend on the par-3 17th. He sits tied for 26th at 6-under.
The leading group of Warren, Lee and Smyth will begin the final round of the AVJennings NSW Open at 10:55am where they will battle for the Kel Nagle Cup, the lion’s share of $400,000 in prize money and Official World Golf Ranking Points.
The winner of the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia tournament will also receive full exemption onto the tour until the end of the 2020 season.
The final round of the NSW Open will tee off at Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club at 7am on Sunday.
For round three results visit pga.org.au.
For round four tee times visit pga.org.au.