Lee, Hoshino share Australia Open lead entering final round

SYDNEY -- Min Woo Lee made a dramatic birdie on the 18th hole to keep his bid of winning back-to-back titles on track despite a challenging day in the third round of the Australia Open on Saturday.

Lee produced a trademark dazzling chip from the bunker and then rolled in for birdie on the par-5 18th to move back to the top of the leaderboard at 13-under with Japan's Rikuya Hoshino.

The 25-year-old Western Australian's adventurous day included four birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey for a round of 70 that included a number of shots from difficult lies in fairway rough or bunkers at The Australian course.

In contrast, Hoshino -- who finished runner-up to Lee at last week's Australian PGA Championship -- was bogey-free and steadily climbed the leaderboard with four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 14th in a round of 65.

"Last week I couldn't make the birdie on the back nine, but this week I have more birdies at the back nine to make the winning [possible]," Hoshino said. "This is the first time in Australia for me, and I'm enjoying this atmosphere and also this tournament. That's why I'm playing well."

Lee and Hoshino hold a one-shot lead over Englishman Alex Fitzpatrick (66) and American Patrick Rodgers (68), who are in a tie for third.

Australian Lucas Herbert is fifth at 11 under after a 66 at the Sydney tournament that features men's and women's fields and is being played on a two-venue format.

Joaquin Niemann (70) of Chile is in a tie for sixth at 9 under, while Adam Scott made up ground with a 67 to be at 8 under and five shots off the pace.

Cam Smith's chances of a first Australian Open title look increasingly slim. The 2022 Open champion is well back in a tie for 25th at 6 under after a round of 69.

Defending champion Ashleigh Buhai of South Africa led the women's field at 12 under, three shots clear of two-time major winner Jiyai Shin and seven shots ahead of Australia's Minjee Lee, the older sister of Min Woo Lee.

Buhai birdied her first four holes on her way to a 67 as she bids to be the first woman to defend the Australian Open title since former world No.1 and five-time major champion Yani Tseng in 2011.

Shin had a mixed day with an even-par 72, while Lee put a disappointing second round behind her with a 67 to surge up the leaderboard.

"I just hit my irons a little bit closer, and that just gave myself a couple more opportunities for birdies," Lee said. "So yeah, had a really nice front nine and made one bogey and one birdie on the back. I'll just have to post a really low score tomorrow, I think, but I can do it."

Teenage amateur Ann Jang, from Sydney, made the shot of the day with a rare albatross at the par-5 first hole. She finished with a 73 and is in a tie for 22nd at 4 over.