Min Woo Lee, Justin Warren and Travis Smyth poised for first win of professional careers on packed leaderboard


Warren fired a third round-best eight-under 64 to share the lead with Lee, who also bogeyed the final hole as five players remained within three shots of each other at the top of the leaderboard.

“They describe it as being in the zone and that’s pretty much where I was for the first 14 holes,” Warren said. “Everything was just straight at the flag and putts were rolling in from everywhere.

If you’re not nervous there’s probably something wrong.

Justin Warren

“I love [the nerves]. It’s a different kind of feeling, but for most of us it’s the reason we play this game, to be up the top Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon. If you’re not nervous there’s probably something wrong. It’s hard to manage and a position I haven’t been in before.

“I’m really looking forward to the challenge and I’m going to embrace it.”

Smyth and Lee are the only two to have shot in the 60s in all three rounds and the former, a NSW junior, was in no doubt about what it would mean to win his home state open.

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“To be able to win our state open would be amazing,” he said. “It would make [Golf NSW and Golf Australia] proud and make me proud. I don’t want to think about it too much just yet, but hopefully I’ll be here [on Sunday] and we have that [trophy].

“Min is pretty established already. He’s such a young bloke, but he knows how to win with his junior and amateur events. He’s not going to be nervous. If anyone [would be nervous] you’d think it might be Justin, but he showed no signs of that [on Saturday].”

A day after claiming the greens were baking out too quickly, Lee took advantage of the softer putting surfaces on Saturday to post a steady four-under 68.

“I think I got in the moment too much [previously playing in the final group],” he said. “Golf is one shot at a time. Back in 2017 in the WA PGA it was me and Rummy [Brett Rumford] and I was matchplaying him. Golf can change so quick so you just need to keep your head in.”

The final day will mark a return to contention for Warren, who hovered near the top of the leaderboard as an amateur previously.

“I look back at that day and I hit a lot of shots I just wouldn’t hit these days,” he said. “That day four years ago now certainly served me a lot and I’m going to draw on that [on Sunday] and know when to go and be safe.”

Aaron Townsend (-6) provided the day’s highlight when he aced the 163-metre par-three seventh during a two-under 70.

NSW OPEN (after third round)
-17: Min Woo Lee, Justin Warren
-16: Travis Smyth, Josh Younger
-14: Andrew Dodt
-11: Jake Higginbottom
-10: Brett Rankin, Max McCardle

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