ZHANG IN THE ZONE IN OMEGA CHAMPIONSHIP
Zhang Lianwei exploded into life on the third day of the US$100,000 Omega Championship with six birdies in his opening nine holes to take the lead today at Tianan Golf Club in Beijing.
In the season-ending event on the Omega China Tour he carded a three-under-par 69 to overtake overnight leader Li Chao by three strokes.
Last month Zhang watched Li succeeded him as Omega Order of Merit champion but he is clearly determined to finish the year on a winning note.
He opened with a double-bogey six but then boarded the birdie train on the second hole before making five on the trot from the fourth. He made the turn in four-under-par 32 before the wheels came off on the homeward half, which he played in one over.
He registered eight birdies in total and leads the tournament on level-par 216.
“Five birdies in a row is a bit special. I enjoyed that! The temperature was more comfortable today and so I had more feeling. I really hope it doesn’t turn cold tomorrow,” said Zhang.
Zhang has claimed two titles this year, in Qingdao and Guangzhou, and was in a strong position to retain the Merit list title.
However Li’s third victory of the season in Xiamen, which was the penultimate event of the year, wrapped up the race for Merit list.
“I haven’t had enough time to play in all the events this year due to other commitments. However, I am really happy to see a young player like Li Chao be so successful,” added Zhang.
Li was one ahead of Zhang at the start of the day but conceded the lead after carding a 73. He blew hot and cold firing an eagle, two birdies, one double bogey and three bogeys, including one on the 18th.
“I doubled the seventh and just lost confidence. I was a bit nervous today. I need to regroup for the final round. The tournament is still wide open,” said Li, who also won the Merit list in 2005.
Liu Anda is four behind Zhang after recording a 72 while three strokes further back is Taiwan’s Wang Terchang, who came in with a 73.
Taiwan’s Lu Wenteh, the only player to win twice on the Asian Tour this year, shot a 68 to make amends for his second round 85. He is 11 adrift of the leader.