Big-hitting Yuan Hao shot a six-under-par 66 to lead young amateur Zhang Xinjun by one stroke after the first round of the RMB800,000 Luxehills Golf Championship, the Omega China Tour’s first-ever event in the Sichuan capital of Chengdu.
Teenage star Benny Ye Jianfeng, Zhang’s fellow China National Team player, bagged eight birdies in a 68, a total later equalled by Chinese Taipei star Tsai Chi-huang at the Luxehills International Country Club. Chen Dinggen, Zhou Xunshu, Liu Xin and Wu Hongfu all shot 69 to tie for fifth.
Chengdu hope Huang Mingjie and Liao Guiming, second in the Omega Order of Merit, both posted 72 to tie for 20th. Chengdu’s Yang Taoli, the first female to make the cut on the Tour, opened with a 77 over the 7,335-yard Mark Hollinger-designed layout.
Yuan, a frequent leader in early rounds, thinks this could be the week he finally achieves his breakthrough victory on the Tour.
“I drove well and my irons were also excellent. This course suits me as I’m driving over 300 yards, which leaves me with a wedge or nine-irons into most par-fours,” said the Guangzhou-based 28-year-old, sixth in last year’s Omega Order of Merit.
“Since the Sofitel Golf Championship in May, there haven’t been many golf events in China, so I’ve been practising hard every day over the summer and feel very confident this week.”
The Luxehills tournament marks the resumption of the Tour following a break for the Olympics, a spectacle that visibly inspired the in-form Zhang, winner of this year’s RMB2.1 million China Pro-Am in Beijing.