Max McCardle has a share of the lead at the halfway mark of the Australian Open.  Picture: Dan Himbrechts/AAP
Max McCardle has a share of the lead at the halfway mark of the Australian Open. Picture: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Former Adelaide airport worker shares Australian Open lead

FORMER Adelaide airport worker Max McCardle admits there will be nerves when teeing off on Saturday sharing the Australian Open lead.

But a "flukey" chip-in birdie on his last hole of the second round at The Lakes has McCardle feeling the golf gods are firmly on his side.

Having teed off on the 10th on Friday, McCardle registered two closing birdies to grab a share of the lead with South Korea's Byeong Hun An, who also had a stroke of luck with a hole-in-one at the par-three 15th.

With An (69) in the clubhouse at eight under, McCardle's ball came to rest next to a greenside bunker at the par-three ninth.

But the 33-year-old South Australian used his putter to hole out for a birdie two.

"It was a bit of a fluke, I had no stance and had to chop a putter down on it," he said.

"I wanted to get it to six feet and it went in. It was pretty cool."

The world No.1062 has spent the previous year plying his trade on the PGA Tour China.

Despite consistent results, he missed out on a promotion to the American secondary Tour and headed back for the Australian summer events.

Playing his ninth consecutive golf tournament in a gruelling 10-week schedule, McCardle said it still paled in comparison to working as a dock hand at Adelaide Airport earlier in his career.

"I grew up little town called Goolwa, South Australia and I left halfway through Year 12 to do a mechanical apprenticeship before I made the move to Adelaide to give golf a go," he said.

"I was doing golf full-time during the day and working for Toll Priority as a dock hand (at night) shifting freight to pay my bills."

McCardle has spent the past 18 months working with the same mental coach as fellow Australian Lucas Herbert, who is enjoying a breakout year on the European Tour.

It's why McCardle is backing himself to perform on the weekend rounds of Australia's premier golf tournament.

"I feel pretty good. I'm sure there will be nerves tomorrow but I'm relaxed," he said.


LEADERBOARD: Max McCardle, Byeong Hun An (-8), Jake McLeod, Matt Kuchar, David Micheluzzi (-7), Abraham Ancer, Keegan Bradley, Jordan Zunic, Cameron Percy Matt Jager, Marcus Fraser, Keita Nakajima (-6).

PLAYER OF THE ROUND: Jordan Zunic, a member of neighbouring Bonnie Doon, scorched around with a tournament-best 65 to charge into contention for the Stonehaven Cup.

SHOT OF THE ROUND: Queensland amateur Jediah Morgan's lip-out for albatross with his laser-like second into the par-five eighth hole would ordinarily take the cake, but Byeong Hun An's spectacular hole-in-one at the 197m 15th to reclaim the lead can't be topped.

STAT OF THE ROUND: QUOTE OF THE ROUND: "Hit it good, nice fading back to the hole and went in. This is my third one but first with a prize." - An after earning himself a $17,000 Swiss watch.

TOURNAMENT SUMMARY: The stage is set for a grandstand finish over the weekend, with 15 players within three shots of the lead entering the pointy end of the championship. But Greg Chalmers and Peter Senior, the past two champions at The Lakes, both missed the cut.