Australia's Min Woo Lee watches his shot into the seventh...

Australia's Min Woo Lee watches his shot into the seventh green during the second round of the Australian Open Golf Championship in Sydney, Australia, Friday, Dec. 1, 2023. Credit: AP/Mark Baker

SYDNEY — 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.

Australia's Min Woo Lee, right, reacts after a putt on...

Australia's Min Woo Lee, right, reacts after a putt on the seventh green as compatriot Cam Smith watches during the second round of the Australian Open Golf Championship in Sydney, Australia, Friday, Dec. 1, 2023. Credit: AP/Mark Baker

“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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