LI STEP CLOSER TO BACK TO BACK TITLES ON OCT
Li Chao put himself into a good position to secure his second successive victory on the Omega China Tour today after finishing the third round of the Shanghai Leg with one shot lead.
Li carded a three-under-par 69 at Grand Shanghai International Golf and Holiday Resort to lie ahead of Taiwan’s Tsai Chi-huang, who came in with the same score.
Wang Ter-chang fired a 72 and is four strokes further back, in what is the fifth event of the season.
Current Omega Order of Merit leader Zhang Lianwei, who is the defending champion, is six behind Li after returning 72.
In-form Li won the previous Tour event – the Yanji Golf Championship – to become the first player to win five titles on the
fledgling circuit, which was launched in 2005. He has a three-round aggregate of two-under-par 214.
“I want to finish well in every leg on the Omega China Tour. I am very focused on this. A lot depends on the mental side of the game which I am working on. I am trying very hard to improve and build a good future for myself in the game,” said Li, who won the Merit title in 2005 and was second last year.
The 27 year old from Beijing, who started the day with a one shot lead over Tsai, nailed five birdies and slipped up with just two bogies.
He is also determined to make amends for this event last year when he finished fourth and missed out on making it into the sudden-death play-off, with Zhang and Huang Mingjie, due to a two-stroke penalty in the final round.
Tsai, who along with Wang are the first players from their country to be invited to play on the Tour, birdied the final hole to close the gap on the front runner.
He hit a wedge from 100 yards to three feet to set up one of five birdies.
The 39 year old is enjoying something of a comeback having suffered a loss in form in 2003 caused by back problems.
Prior to that he’d won the Taiwan PGA Championship in 1998, the 1999 Taiwan Open and the Mercuries Masters, also on home soil, in 2003.
Having lost his Asian Tour card, he has spent most of the past few seasons teaching on driving ranges in Shanghai while his back has gradually recovered.
“I felt depressed and lost my confidence back then but my friends and family were very supportive and I was also very lucky to have some good sponsors,” said Tsai.
Not out of the race is Wang who defends his Brunei Open title later this month on the Asian Tour.
“I’ll be happy with a top three finish this week. I am not swinging the club that well at the moment. Not as well as when I won the Brunei Open last year but I am working very hard on my game,” said Wang, who is a four-time winner on the Asian Tour.
Zhang, who has triumphed twice this year on Tour, uncharacteristically registered two double bogey fours and has a lot of ground to make up if he is to successfully defend his Shanghai crown.