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Darren Clarke five off the pace at Australian PGA Championship as Zhang Xin Jun and Daniel Popovic lead

Updated: Friday, 14 Dec 2012 11:08 | Comments

Leader Daniel Popovic playing a shot at the Palmer Coolum Resort's 13th hole
Leader Daniel Popovic playing a shot at the Palmer Coolum Resort's 13th hole

China's Zhang Xin Jun fired a five-under 67 in windy afternoon conditions to share the second-round lead with Australian Daniel Popovic on ten under at the Australian PGA Championship.

Zhang scorched around the Palmer Coolum Resort layout with seven birdies in his first 15 holes to briefly hold the outright lead, before bogeys at the 16th and 18th saw him drop back to 10 under for the tournament.

Darren Clarke is five shots off the lead after shooting a three under 69.

"I'm stoked" - Daniel Popovic

"I've been surprised by my putting, I needed just 22 putts which is my best-ever putting round, I really like the greens here," Zhang said through an interpreter after the round.

"With my approach shots I'm just trying to visualise them, to think about the shot and hit it, so far it's working."

Popovic backed up his opening 64 with a solid two-under-par 70 to sit alongside Zhang, two clear of 2008 champion Geoff Ogilvy (69) and Matt Griffin (67).

The unflappable 26-year-old poured in four birdies in his opening 10 holes to lead by as many as five shots before a costly double-bogey at the par-five 15th halted his charge.

He held his nerve with three consecutive pars to hold the outright clubhouse lead before Zhang joined him late in the day.

"I'm stoked, I can't get the smile off my face actually," Popovic said.

"It's an unbelievable experience, I can't even explain it, I'm lost for words explaining it."

After starting at the 10th tee, 2006 US Open champion Ogilvy's round featured six birdies but three bogeys cost him the halfway lead.

"I played quite nicely this morning, I felt like I was a bit loose on the front nine and let a few opportunities go away but I played well on my last nine holes," Ogilvy said.

"I'm still in the tournament and that's all you can really ask."

Griffin started brilliantly with birdies at three of his first four holes and overcame two bogeys with four further birdies to move within striking distance of the leaders.

Australians Mathew Goggin (66), Steven Bowditch (66) and Brad Kennedy (68) share fourth spot at minus seven.

Australian Open winner Peter Senior carded a two-under 70 to sit four shots back with Rod Pampling (67), one clear of Kurt Barnes who fired the round of the day, a seven-under 65.

Greg Chalmers will continue his title defence at the weekend after carding a 69 to get to minus three for the championship.

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