ZHANG CELEBRATES BIRTHDAY AND THREE SHOT LEAD
Birthday boy Zhang Lianwei braved the elements to shoot a level-par 72 and take the halfway lead in the Qingdao Leg of the Omega China Tour on Friday.
The Chinese ace used his trademark low trajectory shots to good effect and cut through the strong breeze at Qingdao Huashan Golf Club for a three-shot lead over Li Chao and Yang Wenzhang.
Dong Caihong, who made history this week by becoming the first female to play on the Tour, missed the cut by three strokes.
Zhang turned 42 today and was in jubilant mood.
“I’d like to invite everyone to my birthday party this evening!” said Zhang, after a demanding day which saw him finish with a two-round aggregate of one-under-par 143.
“It was a really tough day, there was a strong wind. It was a very good test of golf for everyone so I am not really upset with a 72. There are still two more days to go so I am not even thinking about winning,” added Zhang.
On Thursday he announced he would be holding a party at the club for all players and officials and with a healthy lead the celebrations will be even better for the man who has become the figurehead of golf on the mainland.
Zhang is chasing his fifth win on the circuit, which this year boasts eight events. He won twice when the Tour was inaugurated in 2005 and also did the double last year on his way to winning the Omega Order of Merit title.
Once again much of the attention focused on Dong who came so close to playing all four rounds. She needed to par the last three to make the weekend but bogeyed the 16th and doubled the last, where she three putted.
“I feel great pity, and I am sorry to all my supporters,” said Dong, who added an 83 to her first round 78.
She double-bogeyed the opening hole for the second successive day but said she never gave up as she always knew she had a chance to make the cut.
“When I missed my first putt on the 18th for par I realized I would miss the cut and just lost my concentration and missed the next putt. It’s been a great experience and I have learnt so much. I feel that my swing did not hold up under the pressure because I have never played at this level before,” added Dong.
The 27 year old started out as a caddie at the club 10 years ago and now works as a coach.
“I hope to pass on the experience of the past two days to a new under-19 team the club is forming,” said Dong.
Li, winner of the Merit list title in 2005, climbed into contention with a 74 while Yang, a 21 year old rookie, moved into uncharted territory at the top of the leader board with a 76.
Wu Weihuang, Deng Yonghong and Chen Xiaoma all returned 73s and lie four behind Zhang.