China’s He surges into lead with 67 while Zhang and Yang lurk in top-10 at the St. Andrew Henan Open
Beijing, June 9: Chinese hotshot Shaocai He carded a second round five-under-par 67 to join in the lead with Korea’s Rak Hyun Cho on eight-under-par 136 total at the St. Andrew Henan Open on Friday.Daihan Lee of Korea carded a 67 to trail the leading duo by one shot in third place while top seed Zhang Huilin and Chinese Taipei’s Lee Chiehpo shared fourth on 138 following respective rounds of 71 and 67 at the St. Andrew Golf Club’s Zhengzhou course.
A total of 70 players made the halfway cut set at four-over-par 148 at the China Tour’s season opener.
He, who lost about seven to eight kilos since last year, claimed that he feels more comfortable and relaxed playing on course now, as compared to the past. “I am happy with my overall performance, everything was good,” said He, who shared the lead with Cho after returning with a bogey-free round highlighted by five birdies.
“The only regret I have today was not to take advantage of the short putts out there. I left a few putts out there. My score could be better,” He added. He hit all the fairways today and only missed one green. It was close to a blemish-free round.
“My body feels a lot better after the weight loss. My fitness has improved and I feel more comfortable when I am out on course now. I hope to continue my good form into the next two rounds.”
Overnight leader Cho was disappointed with his second round, saying it did not meet his expectations. Cho woke up late in the morning and did not have time to warm up. This caused him to drop four shots in his opening six holes today.
“My tee shots were very bad today, especially on the first six holes,” lamented Cho. Starting from the 10, Cho stumbled with a bogey on 11 and a double-bogey on the next before dropping yet another shot on 15. “I hit a three-iron off the tee on 11 but it went into the water. I had a chip and two putts to settle for bogey on that hole.
“On the 12, I pull my tee shot left and hit it into the water hazard again. But I tried to hit it out from the water. I failed to get it out in my first two shots. It was unfortunate but that’s how I made a double-bogey there.”
Cho turned his game around after the 15th hole, firing six birdies against one bogey in his last 12 holes to cling on to his lead.
“The first six holes were like a warm-up for me. I am happy I managed to regain my good form after the birdie on 16. It is a very tight leaderboard. I need to play well tomorrow to keep myself in contention. Hopefully I can play better tomorrow,” said Cho.
Zhang, who trailed by two shots heading into the second round, also did not play to his full potential today. He returned with a round of four birdies against one bogey and a double-bogey to sign for a 71, slipping to tied-fourth place. “I started the round in the morning and was struggling to find momentum. I was able to read the greens well but I thought I just lack some strength.”
Zhang stumbled for the second consecutive day on the 17. He had a bogey on 17 in the first round and a double-bogey in the second round today. “Yesterday I hit a three-wood off the tee on 17 and ended with a bogey. I thought I should try for a birdie today so I hit a driver off the tee today. The ball ended up in the jungle on the left. It feels like I have been cursed on that hole.”
Zhang, however, credited his solid iron-play for keeping him in contention at the St. Andrews Henan Open. He hit only eight fairways today but was able to find 14 greens. “My iron-play has been good these two days. It has been pretty consistent. I was able to hit it close whenever I hit it onto the green. I had nine one-putts today,” Zhang said.
Zhang hopes to take more advantage on the greens tomorrow. “Although I haven’t been able to hit a lot of fairways so far this week, my tee shots are not too much of a problem. If I can sink a few more putts, I should be able to finish high up on the leaderboard.”
Lee, who sits in third place on his own following a 67, said: “My tee shots were pretty average today. It was either to the left or to the right on a few holes. I am most impressed with my iron-play. I was able to hit it close to the pin and give myself good opportunities for birdies.”
Starting from the 10, Lee fired six birdies against two bogey. His round was highlighted by three consecutive birdies from the fifth. “That three straight birdies were key for me as it propels me into contention. I hope my tee shots can be more consistent so I can find more fairways tomorrow,” said Lee.
Chen Zihao, Su Dong and Hu Mu unfortunately missed the halfway cut at the St. Andrew Henan Open.