28 Feb 2021 | Professional golf |

Mixed day for Aussies

by Martin Blake

Min Woo Lee WGC image
Min Woo Lee launches a drive during his 66 at The Concession today. Photo: Getty

On a mixed day for Australians on the tours of the world, Cam Smith led then imploded, Min Woo Lee soared and Cam Percy gave himself another shot at a groundbreaking win.

At the $US10.5 million World Golf Championship event at The Concession in Florida, 22-year-old Lee gave a glimpse of his talent in his first WGC event with a 66, vaulting into a tie for 20th place and setting himself up for an excellent pay day tomorrow.

Last year’s ISPS Handa Vic Open winner had four birdies on the front nine and then three in his last four holes to set up his climb, having played his first US Tour event last weekend.

But Smith was left with the regrets in the swamp that is Florida. Playing in the last group with former world No. 1 Brooks Koepka, five water balls ruined his day.

Standing on the fifth tee the Queenslander had made two early birdies and overtaken Koepka, soaring to a two-shot lead. What happened next was difficult to watch.

Making an aggressive play with driver at the par-four guarded by water down the left, the 27-year-old hooked his tee ball into a watery grave. Having taken a point-of-entry drop, he then found a fairway bunker with his third shot, then hit the water again with his fourth, not carrying far enough.

Ultimately he had to make a great up-and-down from 100 metres to take a triple bogey seven.

It was not over, though. At the par-four eighth, Smith had wedge to the green from the fairway, landed his approach on the front of the green but spun it back down the bank and into more water. Another left shot off the tee, this time at the par-five 13th, also found water as did his tee ball at the par-four 14th.

Smith shot a 77 and is in tied 20th place through three rounds of the no-cut event. Jason Day is the leading Australian after a 69 today took him to seven under par.

Meanwhile the 46-year-old Melburnian Percy has a chance to record his first US PGA Tour victory in the Puerto Rico Open tomorrow at his 163rd start.

The veteran Victorian fired a third-round 67 to be tied-third, just a shot from the lead in Rio Grande.

Three weather interruptions made it a tough day for everyone, but Percy rounded out his day with a kick-in birdie on the par-three 16th and parred in, only just beating nightfall.

SARAH Kemp is the top Australian in the Gainbridge LPGA event in Florida at seven under par through three rounds, six shots from Nelly Korda’s lead and just outside the top 10. Rookie pro Gabriela Ruffels is at one under in tied-36th place after a 71 today.

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