Three way tie at Nanshan China Masters
BY OneAsia | OneAsia Tour | 2013 Nanshan China Masters | Round Two | 12 Oct 2013
NANSHAN, China, Oct 11 – Defending champion Liang Wenchong fired an extraordinary eight-under-par 64 on Friday to share the lead with countryman Zhang Xinjun (67) and New Zealander Gareth Paddison (69) after two rounds of OneAsia’s U.S. $1 million Nanshan China Masters.
The trio are six under around the 6,784-metre (7,419-yard) Montgomerie Course at Nanshan International Golf Club, two shots ahead of former Open champion Darren Clarke (68) and Indonesian Rory Hie (65).
Liang started with an eagle and added ten birdies to his scorecard, finishing with five-in-a-row after earlier bogeying four holes. Playing the course back-to-front, he needed just 22 putts for his round.
Alongside Liang, South African Charl Schwartzel — the 2011 U.S. Masters champion — shot 71 to stand at one under, tied for 12th.
“I was putting very well, but my driving was also really good today,” said Liang, a four-time winner on OneAsia and also the tour’s 2010 Order of Merit champion.
The only time Liang has scored more birdies was in the first round of the 2008 Indian Open when he made a dozen for a course-record 60. He went on to win the tournament by a stroke.
Liang ended a two-year winless streak with victory at last year’s Nanshan China Masters, and five recent top-ten finishes suggest he is coming back into form at the right time.
“I will try my best this weekend, but there are still two days left and anything can happen.”
After playing in perfect conditions in the afternoon, left-handed Paddison said he felt he left a few shots on the course, but was looking forward to playing in the final group on Saturday after a lean spell.
“It’s funny, I’ve never been in this position in a OneAsia event before, tied for the lead after two days, and I sort of feel as if I left a few shots out there,” he said.
“It was a bit of a sombre feeling walking off the course, but at the same time being tied for the lead is fantastic.”
Zhang, 26, a former security guard who only took up the game in his late teens after being posted to work at a golf club, was also looking forward to playing with his hero Liang.
“Since the 2011 World Cup I haven’t played a tournament with him, just a couple of practice rounds. I’m pleased to play with him again and hope to learn from the experience.”
Winless since claiming the Claret Jug at Royal St. Georges in 2011, Clarke was delighted to be in contention again despite some issues on the greens.
“Same as yesterday, I left a lot of putts short,” he said. "I had 33 putts yesterday and I think I had 33 today. I’m hitting good putts, but I just can’t get the speed. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. Obviously I’m playing nicely and this is one of the times I need to be patient and wait for the putts to drop.
“You always feel pressure if you’re in position on the back nine on Sunday, but I’ve got to get myself in that position first. There’s a long way to go before we get there, but I feel as may game is getting back to where I want it.”
Schwartzel, fatigued by a hectic schedule that saw him jet in from last weekend’s Presidents Cup in Ohio, was full of admiration for Liang’s round.
“He one-putted just about every single green. He had a stretch from the fifth to the twelfth where he went nine under in eight holes. I haven’t seen that before. Very impressive.”
He was less than impressed with his own game, however, although he refused to rule himself out.
“My ball striking has been off for the last two days. I haven’t hit it very good and on top of that I putted badly. That’s the reason I haven’t moved forward.
“The body has taken quite a hammering. I’ve been on the go since the British Open non-stop, so it’s a lot of golf and a lot of traveling, but I don’t want to make any excuses. I still fancy my chances. The game is there, but I’ve just got to click in.”
Rookie American Eric Mina, who led by one overnight after opening with a 68, dropped three shots on Friday but was delighted with making his first cut since winning Q-School in California in January.
The cut was made at six over, meaning 16-year-old amateur Dou Zecheng will play the weekend in his second OneAsia tournament having also achieved the feat at the Volvo China Open in May.
Scott Strange, Terry Pilkidaris and Michael Wright lead the Australians in a share of 6th position and only three from the lead.