Min Woo Lee has vowed to remain the aggressor after brushing off an Adam Scott challenge to build a three-shot lead ahead of the Australian PGA Championship’s final round.
The emerging Australian talent was 17 under after carding a five-under 66 in Saturday’s third round at Brisbane’s Royal Queensland.
Scott just missed a putt on the 12th hole that would have tied the pair at the top of the leaderboard.
But the 2013 US Masters champion, chasing his first title since early 2020, stumbled on his way home to card an even par 71 and remain 11 under.
He came desperately close to clawing back some ground with a great approach to the last hole.
But Scott’s birdie putt lipped out and Lee scrambled to make par.
Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino (64) ran riot on the back nine with six birdies to claim outright second at 14 under, while Curtis Luck (13 under) bumped Scott into the penultimate group for Sunday.
Marc Leishman (nine under) is lurking while Lucas Herbert had three consecutive bogeys but recovered to shoot 69 and sit equal fifth at 10 under with Scotland’s Connor Syme (64).
“It’s a course you can shoot low, so you’ll be aggressive no matter what,” Lee said.
“I’m here because I played aggressively … I can just control what I can do and if someone goes out and shoots low hopefully I finish the day happy with how I’ve played.”
US Korn Ferry Tour pro Luck and Lee grew up playing together in Western Australia but haven’t shared a tee time in more than a decade.
“It’s going to be amazing,” Luck said after a five-under round punctuated by a string of near-misses.
“I’ve just been dealing with the ebbs and flows of golf.
“Had a couple of rough years and seems to be coming back up again.”
Fresh off earning full US PGA Tour playing rights, world No.45 Lee produced another remarkably steady round to be on the cusp of a fourth career title.
He avoided disaster after finding trees on the ninth and for the third straight day made just a solitary bogey.
The 25-year-old missed a chance to blow the tournament open when his low-flying four-iron into to 15th hole zipped up the bank to within four metres of the hole.
But his eagle putt slid by, Lee arching his back in anguish before tapping in for birdie to move to 16 under.
He added another on the 16th and then navigated the 17th party hole despite going over the back of the green for the second straight day.
Starting one shot clear, rising star Lee built a buffer of four shots with a birdie on the seventh.
But three holes later that lead was just one, Scott with a tap-in birdie on the ninth as Lee scrambled from the trees to make par and another on the 10th to heap the pressure on.
Scott had a putt to draw level on the 11th stall just short of the hole in a moment that could have swayed momentum.
Earlier Michael Hendry, back on tour after a blood cancer diagnosis in April, soared from even par to seven under with a bogey-free round of 64.
The New Zealander thought he had missed the cut when he walked off the course on Friday, surviving only when it dropped from one under in the final stages of play.