Date: December 15, 2012
Author: Steve Orme, Omnisport

Popovic two shots clear at Coolum

Victorian Daniel Popovic will take a two-shot lead into the final day of the Australian PGA Championship after firing a three-under 69 at the Palmer Coolum Resort on Saturday. Playing in the final threesome alongside major winner Geoff Ogilvy and China&aposs Zhang Xin Jun, Popovic held his nerve to claim the lead for the third straight day at 13 under. The 26-year-old made a bright start with two birdies on his first three holes to lead by three strokes before stumbling with bogeys at the par-five fifth and par-three eighth. He bounced back with a birdie at nine to reclaim a share of the lead and mixed one bogey with three birdies in his final six holes to sit two shots clear of Anthony Brown. “I&aposm over the moon, I couldn&apost be feeling any better right now,” Popovic said immediately after his round. “I knew that I had it in me and I still know that I do have one more good round tomorrow in me. “I&aposve just got to keep in routine … what I&aposve been doing has been working this week and tonight&aposs going to be exactly the same and so it tomorrow morning in my warm-up.” Brown, who began the day seven shots off the lead, scorched around the Coolum layout in eight-under 64 after teeing off in the third group of the day. His blistering round featured nine birdies and a solitary bogey to storm into contention. “I knew that there was a good round in me, I didn&apost really have any expectations at the start of the day but whenever you shot 64 in any tournament, let alone the PGA, you take it,” Brown said. “I&aposm very happy with how I played today.” Australian Open champion Peter Senior (68) and Matthew Griffin (70) are a further shot back at minus 10, while last week&aposs runner-up Brendan Jones (67) is among four players at nine under. Senior, the last player to lead after all three rounds and hold on to win the Australian PGA Championship in 2003, is feeling good about his game heading into the final round. “I&aposm pretty happy with the way things are going, I played a lot better today than I had even last week,” he said. Former Kirkwood Cup winners Robert Allenby (68) and Ogilvy (72) sit in a four-way tie for ninth with Stephen Dartnall (68) and Zhang. Defending champion Greg Chalmers (68) also found the calm conditions to his liking and will start the final day of his title defence six shots back. The shot of the day belonged to Kurt Barnes, who made an ace at the par-three 11th en route to a one-under 71 to sit at minus six. Meanwhile, Northern Irishman Darren Clarke made a hot start with three birdies on his first five holes but fell away on the back nine to post a 72 and fall to minus five overall.