Lee leads the Australian Open by 3 shots, moves into a prime position for back-to-back titles

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SYDNEY (AP) — Min Woo Lee moved into a strong position to win back-to-back titles by taking a three-shot lead halfway through the Australian Open just five days after clinching the Australian PGA Championship.

The 25-year-old Western Australian golfer moved to 12 under after a 64 at The Australian Golf Club in the second round, a day after a 67 at The Lakes course.

He holed out from a greenside bunker for the first of six birdies and finished his round with an eagle at the par-5 18th.

American Patrick Rodgers is tied for second with Connor Syme of Scotland at 9 under. He followed his opening 64 at The Lakes with a 70 at The Australian.

Joaquin Niemann of Chile and Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela were tied in fourth spot at 8 under in the Sydney tournament that features men's and women's fields and is being played on a two-venue format.

Cam Smith and Adam Scott are in a group of 12 players in 27th place. Smith had 68 on Friday and will start the weekend at 4 under just a week after missing the cut in his attempted title defense at the Australian PGA in Brisbane.

Smith, who was playing with Lee, threw a ball in the lake after a bogey at the next-to-last hole.

“It’s going to take my best to even get close and maybe even a little bit of help,” he said. “But there’s still lots of golf left and I feel after how I played today I can still make a run at least.”

Lee's older sister, two-time major winner Minjee Lee, is in a tie for 11th after a 75 at The Australian left her even heading into the weekend.

Two-time major winner Jiyai Shin led the women’s field at 9 under, two shots clear of defending champion Ashleigh Buhai of South Africa and three ahead of fellow South Korean Jenny Shin.

Surprising first-round leader, 16-year-old local amateur Rachel Lee, had eight bogeys in a 79 at The Australian a day after carding 67 at The Lakes and slipped into a tie for 19th.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf