30 Mar 2022 | Amateur golf |
#AusAm R2: Xu, Buchanan stay on top
by Dane Heverin
There were no changes at the top of the Australian Amateur leaderboards on Wednesday as Fiona Xu and Jack Buchanan held onto their overnight leads at Cranbourne Golf Club.
New Zealander Xu charged six shots ahead of her nearest rivals with a seven-under round of 65, while South Australian Buchanan kept his one stroke lead after a six-under round of 65.
Xu, who is 11-under for the tournament, produced two stunning bursts of birdies on either nine courtesy of her calm demeanour.
“Today I was more relaxed than yesterday. I started off with pars and then I got my first birdie on 13,” Xu, who started on the tenth, said.
“From then, I had birdie-birdie but I got a bogey 16.”
That bogey was her only blemish for the day however, and immediately after the turn she again put on a show with an eagle at the first.
“I hit my drive on the fairway and then on my second shot I had 190 and I used my 3-wood, and I was 30 feet left of the pin and I made that putt,” she said.
“I then made birdie on the fourth, fifth, and sixth.”
Xu, who returns home to New Zealand after this week, has also been buoyed by the support she has been receiving from back home.
“A lot of my friends are watching me online and my family as well. It’s really nice,” she said.
Buchanan is now 14-under for the tournament and he set up today’s effort with a hot start on the back nine after beginning the day on the tenth.
He made a perfect start with two birdies on the opening two holes, knowing that early progress was essential with the wind only gathering strength later in the afternoon.
“It was pretty windy all day. It was a lot tougher today,” Buchanan said.
“I started off solid with a couple of birdies in a row. I got a bit lucky on the par-5, I made an eagle. I blocked a drive right and hit trees but it kicked back out onto the fairway. I then hit a 3-iron to like 15 feet and rolled it in.”
Two more birdies came at the 15th and 16th and the birdie blitz ended there. Eleven straight pars followed to Buchanan’s frustration, but crucially it ensured that he remained bogey free for the day.
He is now in a position he is familiar with - leading at the halfway mark of the tournament - and he has a clear focus on how to tackle the next two days to capture a breakthrough victory.
“I just need not get too ahead of myself. Play the same course I have the first two days and play the same again,” he said.
Victorian Connor McDade is nipping at Buchanan’s heels after matching the leader’s round of 65 and carding seven birdies of his own.
McDade also began his round from the tenth, but he faced the windiest conditions of the day as he was in the final group to tee off and being tasked with that challenge made his four front nine birdies all the more impressive.
Two shots further back is fellow Victorian Konrad Ciupek, while a four-way tie for fourth between West Australians Connor McKinney and Joshua Greer, and Victorian Andre Lautee, rounds out the top five.
In the women’s, New South Wales’ Yerin Kim moved into second place at five-under with a brilliant round of 68 that included six birdies, while teen star Justice Bosio shot the second best round of the day - a bogey free 67 - to be one shot further back in a tie for third.
Bosio’s fellow Queenslander Sarah Hammett joins her at four-under, as does South Australian Caitlin Peirce.
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