Observers of the young golf prodigy known as Min Woo Lee might notice he has too much fun. He has lit up this NSW Open with his first-to-smile attitude, his energy, his youth and his enthusiasm.
Then there’s his already magnificent golf game which has him firmly in contention at the halfway mark of this year’s event at Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club.
The 19-year-old West Australian has all the shots and seems to continue inventing them as he did through a brutal back nine this afternoon when observers may also have noticed Twin Creeks starting to show its fangs.
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Through 14, 15, and 16 the north-easterly gathered strength, the course got quicker and made par seemed like a victory.
Minnie, always thinking creatively, put the driver away and pulled out the 2-iron which is quickly becoming his trademark.
Stinger after stinger tempered the threat of bad scoring, keeping him deep in the game at 9-under and only three shots behind the leading quartet at 12-under.
With some challenging pins to also contend with, Minnie said the stinger seemed the obvious choice.
“It was always the game plan to hit 2-iron on those holes,” he said.
“I just have that shot – the low stinger – in the bag. If I need to hit a high one or low one I can do it.”
Still, it was another round under the card, and if not for his course management it could have been different.
“I could have had a draw an hour later and had the whole back nine with that wind,” he said.
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While many late starters struggled as Twin Creeks became more demanding through the afternoon, Victorian Ben Eccles was busy accumulating birdies to post his best round of the year – a blemish-free round of eight-under which gave him the joint clubhouse lead after two rounds.
Three others – Jarryd Felton, Daniel Nesbit and Texan Kramer Hickok – posted their scores in the morning rounds in friendlier conditions.
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For Eccles, the round offered no surprises but more confirmation of his improving performances in the back half of the year.
If anything, his ascension through the field is appropriate given that it is the unofficial defence of his 2015 title (he missed the event last year).
“I hit a lot of good shots inside 10 and 20 feet, and I putted well,” the 24-year-old Victorian said.
“I gave myself a lot of chances, and I took them. I’ve been playing pretty solid this year. It was good the get that round under my belt. It was also my best round of the year which was a bonus.”
Texan holds some of the aces
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Hickok held the clubhouse lead for most of the day after backing up his opening round of 66 with another during his maiden trip to Australia.
The 25-year-old Texan scored one bogey and 13 birdies through his first 36 holes, showing an affinity with the course despite being on his inaugural visit to Australia.
“This (course) reminds me of home. It’s very similar to Texas, the typography, the grass and the weather, so I’m right at home.
“These are probably the best greens I have putt on in the last five years. These greens are so good. They are so pure. It’s one of those deals where if you have an eight-footer and you miss it, it’s on you.”
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West Australian Jarryd Felton also carded his second consecutive six-under-par round in a continuation of his excellent form since the Fiji International.
“Very happy to be sitting at the top,” he said.
“Fiji gave me the confidence to mix it up with the big boys in the big events. I struggled last week in Europe, and it’s good to find form here leading into the big events of summer.
“I had 21-under and lost last year if I shoot 21-under I think I’ll be close. If I lose, then you can’t do much else, but yeah I’m playing well.”