Oliver Goss, a 20-year-old Australian golfer who only turned professional last week, fired a five-under par 66 on Friday to share the lead after the second round at the US PGA National.
Goss, last year’s US Amateur runner-up, stood on six-under 136 at Congressional Country Club, level on top of the leaderboard with countryman Marc Leishman and Americans Patrick Reed and Ricky Barnes.
Goss and Leishman will play in Saturday’s final pairing.
“Second week as a pro, see your name atop the board, gave me some confidence as I finished out the round,” Goss said.
“I feel really great about my game.”
Goss was the low amateur at this year’s Masters, missed the cut two weeks ago at the US Open and made his pro debut last week at the Travelers Championship, also missing the cut.
“I didn’t really have too many expectations,” Goss said of the National.
“Obviously, I wanted to make the cut. Missing the cut last week, I was a little bit disappointed but, coming into this week, pretty appreciative and open-minded and just see what happened.
“That I’m atop the leaderboard, I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Goss opened and closed the front nine with birdies, added another at the 11th, sank a 34-foot birdie putt at the 14th and escaped a greenside bunker on the way to making a seven-foot birdie putt at the par-5 16th. He played without a bogey despite hitting only four of 14 fairways.
“I hit a lot of greens,” Goss said. “I didn’t hit it too far off the fairway. I got fortunate with some pretty good lies and I hit about four in the first cut, which helped. But I think I scrambled my way pretty good.”
Tiger Woods struggled to a four-over-par 75 and missed the cut in his first event after a three-month layoff, but claimed he was encouraged ahead of July’s British Open.
It was only the 10th time Woods had missed the cut in a US PGA Tour event since turning professional in 1996.
Goss is trying to play his way onto the PGA Tour but this led to some issues as he tried to enter the clubhouse and security guards didn’t believe he was truly a player.
“I tried to get in the clubhouse and I don’t have a PGA Tour credential because I’m not a member and they said, ‘No, we can’t let you in’,” Goss said.
“So I had to walk all the way around and go back in. It’s not a big deal and I have a credential now.”
The Fremantle native, who had played collegiately for the University of Tennessee, has made the transition seamlessly and would claim a place on the tour by winning the tournament and making his first pro paycheck the top prize of $US1.17 million ($A1.27 million).
“The main difference is you’re playing against the best in the world,” Goss said. “The depth is just crazy.
“Honestly, I really don’t feel that much different out there. You’re still playing golf and that’s all I’m really feeling at the moment.”
Aussie Stuart Appleby and American Hudson Swafford shared fifth, one shot behind the leaders, with Sweden’s Freddie Jacobson and Americans Billy Horschel, George McNeill and Morgan Hoffmann on 138.
England’s Justin Rose and Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge were on 139.