COOLUM, Australia – Matthew Griffin held off two more famous compatriots to take the Australian PGA lead after Friday’s second round.
Griffin, a former No.3-ranked world amateur, had a 3-under 68 on Friday for a total of 7-under 135, putting him one shot ahead of a trio of fellow Australians.
Chief among them was defending champion and former U.S. Open winner Geoff Ogilvy (66) – who sank a 12-foot par-saving putt on the 18th – and Stuart Appleby (69) in a closely packed leaderboard approaching weekend play at the Hyatt Regency resort course.
Jason Norris, who had a serious accident on a bicycle at the resort two years ago, also had a share of second.
Han Min-kyu of South Korea, who led by four strokes after a first-round 62, slumped to a 75 and was tied for fifth with Australians Bronson La’Cassie (69) and Scott Strange (70), two shots off the lead.
Robert Allenby (68) and Adam Scott (70) were in a group of five tied for eighth at 4-under. John Daly shot 70 and was at 1-under 141, six strokes back.
Griffin played the front nine last on Friday, including the six new holes with harder greens that make it tougher for approach shots to hold.
“The winds were pretty tricky and blowing pretty good, the greens were tough,” Griffin said. “But I holed a few nice putts and got on a bit of a roll.”
Appleby dueled with Scott last week over the final two rounds of the Australian Open before Scott emerged a five-stroke winner. And Appleby finished eighth at the Australian Masters, reviving his form at home after a poor PGA Tour season that saw him finish outside the top 125 on the money list that guarantees cards for next season.
“I would like to finish the year off and get my world ranking going in the right direction instead of the other way,” said Appleby, who has decided to use his one-time exemption from the top 25 on the career money list for his PGA Tour card next year.
Norris suffered serious facial and upper body injuries two years ago when he fell off a bicycle and crashed into a concrete path at the resort. He didn’t play for seven months, and still has pain in his jaw, teeth and right wrist.
“I’d rode 20 meters (yards), we were just looking for a taxi after the cut party,” Norris said. “I wasn’t drunk, probably tipsy. I saw the bike and thought I would hang a joke with the boys and say ‘here’s our ride’. I was going to ride down the hill, and then I didn’t get down the hill.”
The 37-year-old Norris doesn’t stay at the resort because it’s too expensive.
“This place owes me,” said Norris. “Every time I walk past the place it happened, it sort of knocks me around a bit.”
Norris isn’t sure where he’ll play next year due to a continuing spat between the new One Asia tour, which includes the Australian PGA, and the Asian Tour.
“I would love to play both, but the Asian Tour has taken a strong stance against it at the moment, but hopefully things will change.”
Allenby had another interesting day with his wardrobe. On Thursday, he took off his shoes and socks and rolled his trousers up to his knees to hit a ball out of a pond.
On Friday, he took his trousers off completely, stripping down to his boxer shorts, while trying to do a similar shot out of water on the par-4 third, where he took a double-bogey.
“I did look around to make sure there were no cameras … just one TV camera,” Allenby said. “I actually thought I would get it on to the green, but it only went like two feet.”