Date: December 14, 2012
Author: Steve Orme at Coolum, Omnisport

Zhang joins Popovic in share of lead

China&aposs Zhang Xin Jung has fired a sizzling five-under 67 in windy afternoon conditions to share the second-round lead with Victorian Daniel Popovic at the Australian PGA Championship. Zhang scorched around the Palmer Coolum Resort layout with seven birdies in his first 15 holes to briefly hold the outright lead, before bogeys at the 16th and 18th saw him drop back to 10 under for the tournament. “I&aposve been surprised by my putting, I needed just 22 putts which is my best-ever putting round, I really like the greens here,” Zhang said through an interpreter after the round. “With my approach shots I&aposm just trying to visualise them, to think about the shot and hit it, so far it&aposs working.” Popovic backed up his opening 64 with a solid two-under-par 70 to sit alongside Zhang, two clear of 2008 champion Geoff Ogilvy (69) and Matt Griffin (67). The unflappable 26-year-old piled on four birdies in his opening 10 holes to lead by as many as five shots before a costly double-bogey at the par-five 15th halted his charge. He held his nerve with three consecutive pars to hold the outright clubhouse lead before Zhang joined him late in the day. “I&aposm stoked, I can&apost get the smile off of my face actually,” Popovic enthused. “It&aposs an unbelievable experience, I can&apost even explain it, I&aposm lost for words explaining it.” After starting at the 10th tee, 2006 US Open champion Ogilvy&aposs round featured six birdies but three bogeys cost him the halfway lead. “I played quite nicely this morning, I felt like I was a bit loose on the front nine and let a few opportunities go away but I played well on my last nine holes,” Ogilvy said. “I&aposm still in the tournament and that&aposs all you can really ask.” Griffin started brilliantly with birdies at three of his first four holes and overcame two bogeys with four further birdies to move within striking distance of the leaders. Tasmanian Mathew Goggin (66), Sunshine Coast local Steven Bowditch (66) and Queenslander Brad Kennedy (68) share fourth spot at minus seven. Australian Open winner Peter Senior carded a two-under 70 to sit four shots back with Rod Pampling (67), one clear of New South Welshman Kurt Barnes who fired the round of the day, a seven-under 65. Northern Irishman Darren Clarke, who played alongside Ogilvy, sits a further shot back after a three-under 69, one clear of his other playing partner Robert Allenby, who made his move with a 67. Greg Chalmers will continue his title defence on the weekend after carding a 69 to get to minus three for the championship. South Africa&aposs Rory Sabbatini will also feature in the final two rounds after a gutsy second-round 68 to finish at even, while Stuart Appleby (75) overcame a slow start to birdie his final three holes to make the cut on the number at plus one. Victorian Kieran Pratt (71) produced the shot of the day at the par-five 5th, holing his second for a spectacular albatross, but the Victorian won&apost be around on the weekend after finishing at plus three.