Date: July 19, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Armstrong earns chill time

Josh Armstrong rushed to the practice range after the first round of the US Junior Amateur.

After today's second round, the Canberran dangled his feet in a lake at his host family's house and tried to land hismelf a Kansas catfish.

A 66 will do that.

Armstrong, a member at the ACT's Gold Creek who plays pennants for The Lakes in Sydney, overcame an early double-bogey at the Flint Hills National Golf Club to post a five-under round that left him at seven under for his two stroke play rounds.

That left Armstrong well placed as the fifth seed when the match play phase starts tomorrow, when he'll be joined by the two other Aussies in the field that was today whittled to 64.

Perth's Min Woo Lee was equally as impressive in carding a second-round 67 that left him at six under in total and seeded seventh, while Melbourne's Cameron John fired a 74 that left him three over and seeded 47th.

Armstrong's eight-birdie charge left him just three behind American medallist Austin Eckroat, the 2016 Sage Valley Invitational champion who carved out his own quality 66.

But the giant young Aussie was more than happy with his progress.

"Yesterday was one of those days when I hit it pretty average, but the short game was unreal," Armstron said.

"I did some work on range in the arvo and sorted it and then came out this morning and thought it was all there and just tried to let it happen and it did.

"I kept to my plan, stayed patient and it all went well."

Armstrong, a member of the ACT junior and NSW senior teams, began with a birdie, but quickly gave back the advantage with a horrid drive on the second that cost him a double-bogey six.

"That was just a total mental switch-off on that tee shot. I lost the ball," he said.

"But I concentrated hard after that and got it back pretty quickly."

Birdies at the third, fifth and seventh were countered by a bogey on the ninth, but four more on the back nine without a blemish had Armstrong in a good position for the prospect of up to six matches in coming days.

"All the business is ahead of us now. But I'm confident what I'm doing will translate well into match play.

"It's still just playing golf."

Lee, a member at Royal Fremantle, was equally focused on the match play where, in defence of his title, he is seeking to become just the third player to win this famous tournament more than once after a couple of reasonable names – Tiger Woods (3 times) and Jordan Spieth.

Lee said he was enjoying the notoriety of having his face adorn promotional banners on the driving range and around the course.

"No, it doesn't bother me to see that. It's funny walking past people who recognise you and have big grins on their faces, more than anything," the 18-year-old said.

"The comparisons to Tiger and Jordan are nice. It actually motivates me more because it is special, but it definitely doesn't worry me.

"It's kind of like what people were saying with (sister and LPGA Tour star) Minjee last year about winning it as brother and sister and that didn't bother me either."

Lee said he drove the ball far better in a second round that featured six birdies and a pair of bogeys, but also learnt his lesson on the greens as he prepares for match play.

"I actually left a lot of putts short today because the greens are much slower than normal here, so if I can hit it harder tomorrow, I'm confident (I'll go well) again."

John, a member at Commonwealth, couldn't buy a putt but only really paid the price with a double-bogey on the short par-four sixth.

The Australian Junior champion's 74 came despite hitting 14 greens in regulation, leaving him, too, confident that he'll be right in the knockout phase should his putter behave as he'd expect.

The first round of match play begins tomorrow.