Marc Leishman leads early in the final round of the Australian PGA Championship.
Marc Leishman leads early in the final round of the Australian PGA Championship.Source: Getty Images

Ross McGowan has shot a course record 63 at Royal Pines to bolt into Australian PGA Championship contention and add some intrigue to what looked to be a two- horse race on the Gold Coast.

The Englishman raced from two-under to be clubhouse leader at 11-under and just three shy of new on-course leader Marc Leishman.

McGowan closed out his round while overnight leader and defending champion Cameron Smith endured a scratchy start to sit one shot behind Leishman after seven holes.


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Cameron Smith has made his move in the shadows to burst clear of sparring partner Marc Leishman and get within reach of back-to-back Australian PGA Championships.

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Smith (14 under) spread five birdies across a mistake-free round of 67 in another controlled showing at Royal Pines on Saturday, while Leishman (69) did his best to keep up and finished three shots back in outright second.


Contending youngsters Dimi Papadatos and Jake McLeod (both five under) faltered on a testing third day as they jostled for order of merit honours, leaving Matt Millar (seven under) tied with former champion Harold Varner III in third.


Smith birdied the second hole and, despite settling for par when an eagle beckoned on the short par-4 eighth, birdied the next to remain an arm’s distance from his Australian World Cup teammate and playing partner Leishman.


Leishman birdied the 10th but bogeyed the 11th and both men nailed their approaches to the 12th and left with birdies.


But when Smith made a long birdie putt on the 13th, he had a three-shot lead, all while McLeod slowly lost pace with the lead group to drop four shots on his final eight holes.


Braden Becker moved into calculations after carding 67 and returning to the clubhouse at six under, while Matthew Millar (seven under) did the same.


Canberra product Millar’s five-under round earned him the early clubhouse lead and a Sunday pairing with Varner, whose mixed bag earned him a one-under round. Matt Jager and Ben Eccles are six under.



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A Cameron Smith masterclass has set up a dream Saturday pairing with Marc Leishman and brought his Australian PGA Championship defence to life on the Gold Coast.

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Smith systematically worked over Royal Pines in carding a seven-under 65 on Friday, moving him to nine-under for the tournament and one ahead of Leishman and Jake McLeod.


Victorian Leishman replicated his Thursday 68, while Dimi Papadatos (seven- under) had briefly held the lead and will wage war with Saturday playing partner McLeod for the Order of Merit spoils.


Like fellow overnight leader McLeod, West Australian Matt Jager didn’t fade and only a bogey on the last – after a birdie on the party hole 16th – separated him from the Townsville product.


Smith took Friday’s honours though, mixing seven birdies with a bogey through his first 10 holes to wipe aside a frustrating first-day 70. While cursing himself for not getting to 10-under, Smith’s no-fuss showing has set up a showdown with a fellow Queenslander he knows well from their days on the junior representative scene.


“Jakey and I, we’ve been in state teams together, fiddled around at home, QAS trainings, everything,” he said of the talent one year his junior. “Jakey’s a good boy, love playing with Jake.


“There’s so many guys that I grew up playing with who were all really good and it’s good to see a few of them doing well.” Healthy crowds followed Smith and his playing partner Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston and were rewarded when the Englishman chipped in for a memorable birdie on the rowdy 16th party hole.


Johnston saluted the bar and threw his ball into the crowd as his moved to five- under and into the conversation despite dropping to three-over after three holes and contemplating early retirement on Thursday.


World No.21 Leishman was ominously rock solid again, avoiding disaster with a nice save over trees while balancing on the lakeside edge on the 12th. Overnight leader McLeod, who started the day six-under, birdied his first hole then exploded on the back nine with back-to-back birdies and a monster eagle putt to give him clean air at 11-under.

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The NSW Open winner, Order of Merit leader and Australian Open third place- getter followed with a bogey and then dropped two more shots when he narrowly went out of bounds on the 17th.


Champion in 2016, Harold Varner III (seven-under) was the big early mover on Friday morning with three straight birdies.


Play begins at 6.30am on Saturday, with Smith and Leishman to tee off in the last group at midday.

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