Ryan Ruffels and Cameron Davis have been inseparable on the scoresheet at the Asia-Pacific Amateur, shooting second rounds of 64 after both opened with a 69 on Thursday.
Ruffels and Davis are T3 at 7-under par, three shots back of leader Jin Cheng of China. NSW's Travis Smyth is also in the mix after a second round 69 that has him T10 and five back.
While the Aussies soared in the afternoon rounds, it was a struggle for the morning groups who battled though some tough conditions.
WA's Jarryd Felton shot an even par 70 to remain at -3, and is just inside the top 20. Defending champion Anthony Murdaca is two behind Felton at 1-under par, and Lucas Herbert fought valiantly to make the cut with three late birdies in his round, coming in at 2-over par.
Speaking post round, Ruffels credited his T3 position to his putting.
“It's been was all down to my putting this week,” said Ruffels while chatting to the small Australian media contingent in the bus back to the clubhouse.
"I struck it a lot better today than I did yesterday, so I had a few more chances, so some of those were for birdie instead of par. But yeah, I couldn't — I missed one on the last but other than that, I don't think I missed many putts today."
It’s been hard for Ruffels to have time to take a breather with the media spotlight leading to numerous obligations before and after his rounds. But with a feeling he needed to work on his golf, Ruffels managed to keep a low profile as he headed to a virtual driving range located in the clubhouse.
“I just feel like every day, whether you play good or bad, you've got to keep trying get a little bit better for tomorrow,” said the world’s eighth ranked amateur.
“If I get out there tomorrow with the mind-set that I just want to do what I did today, it's not going to set me very well, so, I’ve just got to try to improve on today to get there.”
Ruffels' impressive round was bogey free, avoiding trouble in the tricky conditions and holing some massive putts when it mattered.
“I holed something like a 40-footer for par on 16, and just those sort of things keep a round going in these sort of conditions, and I was able to do that, which is I guess why I came out with the score I had.”
Unlike Ruffels, NSW's Cameron Davis had a single blemish on his card thanks to a three putt on 17. This lead to a line of questioning from the media that Davis found amusing.
“It was funny, as the first thing the Fox Sports guys asked me about was my three putt,” lamented Davis.
“I mean, I had a good round, but they didn't want to know about the good holes!”
The reason it was brought up was to mention an impressive statistic — up until that point, and at such a late point in the round, all three Australians in the afternoon field were bogey free.
Putting has been a struggle for Davis this week, but the national squad member feels he is on top of his game in all other areas.
“In the practice rounds I was struggling a little with my ball striking, but after some work I’ve started hitting it really well,’ said Davis.
“I’ve been giving myself a lot of chances in these two rounds. The main issue for me is just holing anything around six foot.
“I did make a few mid round but I was missing most of them early. Yesterday was worse that today obviously. I had 33 putts yesterday and today would have been a just little bit lower.”
It’s interesting that Davis and Ruffels are level, considering that there seems to be daylight between them with the flat stick.
Tomorrow, it’s expected that the pair will be grouped together, and Davis isn’t sure about the prospect of going one on one with his teammate.
“I don’t know hey,” joked Davis within earshot of Ruffels, while giving him a mock death-state.
“Actually we’ll be fine. We get along really well and it would be good if we can feed off each other by playing well and making birdies.
“But it’s also going to be serious. [Ruffels] probably won’t even talk to me, but I’ll be a bit chatty.
“You’ve got to remember, it's a big big thing on the line here. We’re going to be friendly but in the end we’re going to do everything we can to win.”
It has created an interesting dynamic with the entire Aussie team gelling as a unit, despite each member of the team being a threat to one another.
Davis agrees, but says the team dynamic helps bring everyone in the squad up, and play better as individuals.
“A good team atmosphere always helps you play well,” said Davis.
“Whenever you play a team event, everyone kind of lifts and pushes each other on. That atmosphere provides the best way for us to make good scores — it’s much better to have encouragement when you do well, or have some give you a kick up the bum when you need it. You don’t get that playing for yourself.”