Popovic maintains lead at Australian PGA

Daniel Popovic’s second round 70 was enough to maintain the lead at the Australian PGA Championship at Coolum.

Popovic and China’s Xin Jun Zhang are at 10-under with Geoff Ogilvy and Matthew Griffin in a share of third, two behind the leaders.

Daniel Popovic Daniel Popovic fires his approach into the 16th at Coolum during the second round of the Australian PGA (Photo: Anthony Powter)

Popovic was heading for another impressive round today until a double bogey at the relatively easy 529-metre par-5, 15th hole – which he also had difficulty with on Thursday – opened the door for Geoff Ogilvy to make a significant dint in his five-shot lead.

“The 15th, I just can’t get my head around it,” said Popovic.

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Daniel Popovic reacts to missing his birdie putt on the 5th at Coolum during the second round of the Australian PGA Championship (Photo: Anthony Powter)

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After carding a two-under 70, Popovic had a two-shot clubhouse lead over Ogilvy (67-69) heading into the biggest weekend of his career.

“I’m stoked. I can’t get the smile off my face,” said Popovic, adding he was still playing well and had a lot of confidence heading into the weekend.

“I have put myself into position before to have a chance at winning. I’ll play aggressive and will not change my mindset.”

Ogilvy also remains confident moving into the weekend and sent a message to the rest of the field that he’ll be drawing on all his experience moving into the weekend in an attempt to win his second Australian PGA title after his victory at Coolum in 2008 before claiming the 2010 Australian Open.

“There’s no substitute for experience,” said Ogilvy, the last Australian to claim a major with the 2006 US Open.

“You have to take advantage with the par 5′s, with the exemption of 15, as they are all birdie opportunities. I feel like I’m in a good place, I’m quite comfortable on this course and am playing well.”

Rounds of 69-67 was exactly what Matt Griffin was after to put aside the recent disappointments with missing playing privileges following an unsuccessful Q-School in the US.

After winning his first PGA Tour of Australasia tournament in September 2011, Griffin kicked on in 2012 to claim his first international title at OneAsia’s Charity High1 Resort Open in South Korea where he took home approximately AU$173,800, the biggest pay check of his career.

The result helped Griffin climb the OneAsia Order of Merit, on which he currently sits in fourth.

Yet to claim a top Australian professional title, Griffin has positioned himself perfectly for the weekend to be paired with Ogilvy and just two from the leaders.

Kurt Barnes fired the day’s low round with a 65 to climb into a share of 10th position, with Mathew Goggin, Steven Bowditch and Brad Kennedy tied for fifth at 7-under.

Last week’s Australian Open winner, Peter Senior, is in a tie for 8th with Rod Pampling at 6-under.