AUSTRALIANS Nick Flanagan and Jason Scrivener share a one-shot lead going into the weekend in the ISPS Handa Vic Open, as home favourites dominate the leaderboard at 13th Beach Golf Links.
Scrivener has three top 10 from four events so far in the 2019 Race to Dubai.
And he continued his excellent start to the season as he stayed bogey-free with a second-round 66 to get to 14-under and set the pace at the end of the morning session.
He was then joined by overnight leader Flanagan, who followed up a 62 with a second round 68 on the Beach course.
He had earlier moved into a slender lead before dropping his only shot of the day on the 16th hole to take a share of the lead with Scrivener, one shot ahead of countryman Wade Ormsby.
Flanagan said: “I think yesterday was a bit of a surprise, but at the same time I played well and kind of got everything out of my game.
I’m probably happier with today’s round considering it was backing up that 62.
“The last three or four holes it got a little tricky, and from what I’ve seen in the weather report it’s going to be blowing up to 10mph stronger tomorrow.
“It definitely makes a couple of holes really tricky and anybody that can keep it on the ground a little quicker over the weekend is going to do well.
“It could have been anything today, probably could have been a couple better, but I had my fair share of long putts and good breaks so far the first two days.
“To be up there at the top of the leaderboard is obviously great and we’ll go out on the weekend and just keep doing what I’m doing,” said the 2003 US Amateur Champion.
Scrivener was also happy with what he described as “two solid rounds.” He said: “I played nicely, so am looking forward to the weekend.
“Knowing there’s a lot of birdies out there, if you try to rush them you can make mistakes, so it’s just plodding your way around and being smart about it.
“Anytime your game’s in a good place and you’re constantly making cuts and putting yourself in contention, it’s good for confidence.
“I just feel like over the last six months I’ve made some big improvements in my game and steadily progressing the last couple years.
“I feel like it’s in a good position and I just want to give myself more chances to win tournaments.”
The innovative ISPS Handa Vic Open is making its first appearance on the Race to Dubai, with men and women playing over the same layouts in separate tournaments for equal prize money.
The two fields of 156 players have teed off in alternating groups over the Beach and Creek courses in the first two rounds, with the action now set to take place on the Beach layout after the second round cut.
Matt Jager and Brad Kennedy round off an all-Australian top five at 12-under at the half way point in the men’s event, while France’s Clément Sordet, Scot David Law and Aussie Nick Cullen are one shot further back.
Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey, Kiwi Ryan Fox and another Scot, Grant Forrest, are among a group of seven players at 10-under.
The men’s tournament at the Barwon Heads venue is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia, while the women’s championship is co-sanctioned by Australian Ladies Professional Golf and the (LPGA) Ladies Professional Golf Association.
The United States’ Kim Kaufman holds a two-shot lead over Japan’s Haru Nomura in the women’s event, after back-to-back rounds of 66 took her to 13-under.