Cockroach kid leads Scott, Spieth at Australian Open - Times LIVE
   
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Mon Mar 27 02:48:36 SAST 2017

Cockroach kid leads Scott, Spieth at Australian Open

AFP | 2016-11-18 11:23:57.0
A file photo of Australian golfer James Nitties.
Image by: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

World number seven Adam Scott surged into contention while two-time major champion Jordan Spieth remained within striking distance of leader James Nitties in the Australian Open second round on Friday.

Nitties -- who competes on mini-tours in the United States, and complained he often stays in cockroach-infested hotels -- fired seven-under 65 to enter the weekend at nine-under 135.

New Zealander Ryan Fox was one shot behind at eight-under, with Australia's Rhein Gibson alone in third at the par-72 Royal Sydney Golf Club.

Local favourite Scott vaulted into a five-way tie for fourth at six-under, three shots off the pace, after a morning 65 that included a closing nine of six-under 30.

Former world number one Spieth is one shot further back in a six-way tie for ninth after following his opening 69 with a 70.

Nitties started on the 10th hole and ignited his round with an eagle at the par-five second before producing five birdies in his final six holes.

"It's been a pretty rough last three years," Nitties said.

"Playing mini-tours this year in America and you're 34 years old and you've been on the PGA Tour and your game hasn't really changed much from then, but you're staying in hotels which have cockroaches running around."

Fox -- who has full status on the European Tour for 2017 -- will play alongside Nitties in Saturday's final group and is looking to become the first New Zealander to win the Australian Open.

"Playing in The Open at St Andrews last year and the Olympics this year, granted I wasn't in this position, hopefully I can draw from those experiences and be nice and relaxed and go out and have some fun tomorrow," 29-year-old Fox said.

Scott picked up four shots in three holes late in his Friday round, which included an eagle at the par-five seventh.

"It's always the secret when you're not quite on top of your game, you just need a good stretch of nine holes somewhere in the tournament and that can carry you," Scott said.

"Hopefully that will be the nine that will (be) enough with two solid days on the weekend to carry me through."

Alongside the 2013 US Masters winner at six-under are fellow Aussies Rod Pampling, Todd Sinnott, reigning US Amateur and Asia-Pacific Amateur champion Curtis Luck, and 20-year-old Lucas Herbert.

Spieth carded five front-nine birdies but lost momentum with a three-putt double bogey at the par-four 15th.

"It's just the putter that needs improvement but, again, I'm still in it with feeling like I've been brainless on the greens," the American said.

The top three players in Sydney who are not otherwise exempt will win direct entry into next July's British Open at Royal Birkdale.

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