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Panasonic Open Golf Championship 2022

Practice makes perfect for Lee, trails Miyamoto by two

Practice makes perfect for Lee, trails Miyamoto by two

They say practice makes perfect and that's certainly the case for American golfer Han Lee.

Thanks to extra hours spent on the driving range, the 45-year-old has climbed to within two shots off the lead at the Panasonic Open following a blistering second round on Friday.

Lee, who registered an opening three-under-par 69, fired a bogey-free 66 at the Onotoyo Golf Club in Hyogo to put himself in contention for his first JGTO victory in 10 years and second overall.

Lee trails leader, Katsumasa Miyamoto, whom he pipped to glory at the 2012 Mynavi ABC Championship, by only two strokes, sitting tied-seventh on nine-under 135 for the tournament.

Miyamoto, 50, proved once again age is just a number as he returned a 66 to underline his intention to add another title to his 12 victories to date.

Miyamoto will head into the weekend with a slender one-shot cushion over last week's ANA Open winner Tomoharu Otsuki (66), Yuki Inamori (67), Tomoyo Ikemura (65), as well as first-round joint-leaders Shugo Imahira (69) and Yuto Katsuragawa (69).

Adam Bland of Australia carded an improved 67 to be tied 13th on 136, one shot ahead of the international trio comprising compatriot Brad Kennedy (68), Juvic Pagunsan (66) of the Philippines and South Korea's Hyunwoo Ryu (68).

Lee, who enjoyed two top-10 finishes this season, has credited his solid round to improvement in ball-striking and is confident that he can only get better.

"I was very, very happy as there was no bogey today," said Lee, who birdied holes number one, two, nine, 10, 11 and 14.

"When you returned no bogey, you're playing good golf.

"Yesterday, my driver wasn't as good as I'd liked. As soon as we finished (the first round), we hit some balls.

"My caddie and I found out what the problem was. We practised a little bit yesterday and this morning too.

"I felt that I'm hitting the driver better. As the week goes on, it will get even better and better."

Miyamoto believes saving difficult pars has been the key for him to finishing atop the leaderboard for the second time this season.

The last time Miyamoto found himself in pole position was during the third round of the Japan Players Championship. He subsequently finished in joint third.

"The last two days have been a success indeed. As I turned 50 this year, I'm competing on both the senior and regular tours concurrently," said Miyamoto, who won the Crowns for his last title in 2019.

"I adopted the same approach for both competitions. I did well in saving par on difficult holes and it's extremely important to do to maintain good momentum."