Li Returns to the Limelight
http://sports.sina.com.cn 2007年05月11日19:03 新浪体育
新浪体育讯 Rejuvenated Li Chao, bidding for a fifth victory on the Omega China Tour, took the first round lead in the season-opening US$100,000 Sofitel Golf Championship on Thursday.
The Chinese golfer fired a two-under-par 70 at Zhongshan International Golf Club in Nanjing to lead by a stroke from Zhou Jun.
Zhang Lianwei, the reigning Omega Order of Merit champion, finished a shot further back along with 15-year-old amateur sensation Ye Jianfeng – amongst a group of six players on 72.
After struggling over the past couple of weeks in the joint sanctioned events played on the mainland, Li rediscovered his touch and leapt up the leader board with a back nine of three-under-par 33 thanks to three birdies on the trot from the 10th.
“It’s been a tough few weeks and because of that I was not confident at the start today. I felt bad but I told myself I really had to pick myself up and start to think more positively if I was going to turn my golf game around. Fortunately I was able to do that,” said Li.
The 27 year old won the Merit list title when the Tour was inaugurated in 2005 and finished second last year, when he also matched Zhang with two victories.
“I made a birdie on the fifth which gave me a lot of confidence and really got me started. I am quite happy to finish with a 70 as the course was demanding. There was a strong breeze and the pin placements were challenging,” added Li.
He fired five birdies and three bogeys, the last one of which came on the par-three 17th where he plugged in a bunker.
“I ballooned my tee-shot on the 17th and I knew it was going to plug. After that I just wanted to make a four and not mess up so I was not too disappointed with the bogey,” said the man from Beijing.
The talismanic Zhang made a birdie on the par-four 18th after hitting his approach to eight feet but it was a frustrating day for the five-time winner on the Asian Tour.
“People were expecting the scores to be lower but with the wind and the greens being so big and undulating it was tricky. Hitting approach shots close to the pin was very difficult,” said Zhang, who shot four birdies and four bogeys.
The surprise package of the day was Shenzhen-based Ye – a member of the national amateur team who played on the Omega China Tour last year aged 14 becoming the youngest player to compete on the circuit.
“I played well until the eighth hole which I bogeyed and after that I lost my momentum. At the start I told myself two under would be a good score but I will take 72. I think I can do better,” said the confident youngster,
Pencil-thin Ye bogeyed the par-three eighth because playing into the wind it was about 260 yards and he was forced to hit a driver.
Coached by his father at Sand River Golf Club, Ye’s round was made even more remarkable by the fact that he has been suffering from toothache for the past two nights meaning he hasn’t been able to get to sleep until three in the morning.
For much of the day Fan Zhipeng led the tournament. Part of last year’s Asian Games team and playing in just his second event as a professional he was four under coming to 13 before the wheels came off.
He three putted the 13th and then had a soul destroying eight on the par-five 14th – where he pushed his tee shot into bushes and took three to get out,
“That really broke my momentum, I am really angry about it,” said Fan, who led at the halfway mark of the Shanghai leg on the Omega China Tour last year while still an amateur. He also finished level par.