Kiwi Ryan Fox is one shot off the lead after the second round of the Australian Open at Royal Sydney today.

Newcastle battler James Nitties emerged from the golfing wilderness to snare the halfway lead with a spectacular homeward-nine 29 in a seven-under 65 to burst from the pack with the day's equal-low round.

The Dallas-based 34-year-old is nine under for the championship and one stroke ahead of Fox, who recorded a second 68.

US-based Lismore product Rhein Gibson had enjoyed the clubhouse lead all afternoon until Fox birdied the last hole, then Nitties leapfrogged the son of All Blacks legend Grant Fox with his own finishing flurry.

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Adam Scott is lurking ominously three shots back in a five-way share of fourth place after carding a seven-birdie, one-eagle 65 in the perfect morning scoring conditions to match Nitties' fine round.

The former world No.1 has company on six under with first-round co-leader Curtis Luck, the steely 20-year-old amateur who recovered from four dropped shots mid- round to shoot a respectable 71.

In-form veteran Rod Pampling (67), big-hitting Todd Sinnott (68) and exciting 20 -year-old Lucas Herbert (71) are also at six under.

Two-time major champion Jordan Spieth is well poised a further shot back after a round of 70 undermined by a double bogey on the par-four 15th hole.

- AAP