DOMINANT ZHANG LEADS IN GUANGZHOU
Unstoppable Zhang Lianwei is clearly relishing playing on the Omega China Tour as he took the halfway lead in the Guangzhou Leg today and then asserted that one day the circuit will surpass the Japan Golf Tour.
Zhang, who leads the Omega Order of Merit following a victory and runner-up finish this year, carded a four-under-par 68 to lie two strokes ahead of Zheng Wengen. Zheng came in with a 72, while a stroke further back are first-round leader Yuan Hao and Kong Weihai.
Reigning Order of Merit champion Zhang has been invited to play in the UBS Japan Golf Tour Championship next week, which is considered to be the country’s Players Championship.
The Chinese star is looking forward to competing in Japan, where he has played with distinction over the years, and is confident that his country’s circuit will evolve into a tour that will rival Japan’s.
“I am not sure when but one day the Omega China Tour will be even bigger than the Japan Tour. The Japan Tour is a wonderful tour and the rate at which the game is developing in our country it will not be long before we have as many events and top quality players,” said Zhang, who has a two-round aggregate of five-under-par 139.
Although he has one eye on next week’s excursion to the Land of the Rising Sun, Zhang will clearly be hard to catch over the weekend in the US$100,000 tournament.
Two weeks ago he claimed a wire-to-wire victory in the Qingdao Leg and moved into pole position again today after firing six birdies and two bogeys. The two dropped shots came on 15 and 16 which allowed the field to stay in touch with the in-form golfer.
“I hit my approach shots really well to set up a lot of birdie chances,” added Zhang, who won twice last year en-route to winning the Merit list.
The top of the leader board has a sentimental feel about it as Zhang and Zheng, along with Cheng Jun, are remembered for being the first Chinese golfers to turn professional in 1994.
Zheng hasn’t been able to replicate Zhang’s outstanding career but would no doubt dearly love to pip his former amateur team-mate to the post this week for the first time.
However, Zheng struggled to find his form today despite a good start. He birdied the first and third but then doubled the fourth.
Said Zheng: “After I double bogeyed the fourth hole I got a bit confused and lost my way. Yesterday I made the perfect start, today I was perfectly confused.”
His best finish on Tour is second place in Zhuhai last year, but he fancies his chances this week as his straight hitting game suits the course.
“I made the turn in 36 and came back in 36 so at least that was really perfect,” joked Zheng.
Yuan fired a 74 while Kong returned a 70. Huang Mingjie is five behind the leader following a 73.