Baldwin takes charge at fragrant Hills International Beijing Open


Beijing, June 22: American Mark Baldwin snatched the outright lead after posting a second round five-under-par 66 at the Fragrant Hills International Beijing Open on Friday.

Baldwin, who shared the overnight lead with Australia’s Deyen Lawson and Korea’s Cho Rak Hyun, moved atop the leaderboard after establishing a two-shot advantage over Lawson with his two-day total of 11-under-par 131 at the Fragrant Hills International Golf Club.

Lawson returned with a 68 to take second place with his 133 total while Cho slipped to tied-third place alongside compatriot Daihan Lee and Ryann Ree of the United States after signing for a 69 at the ¥1.35 million, which is also the second stop on the China Tour.

Balwin, who is chasing his first win on the China Tour having come close with two top-five finishes last year, continued to put up another assured performance.

Like his opening round, the 33-year-old enjoyed another eagle on the 18th hole and was pleased to be heading into the weekend rounds in pole position.

“It was more challenging today compared to yesterday. I thought the fairways were wetter and there was more wind. The pin placements were more difficult.

“I was able to get off to a good start and I had another eagle on the 18th hole again. My four birdies were all pretty close as I managed to hit some good quality shots there and was able to make some solid putts which were between five to 10 feet,” said Baldwin.

Play was suspended for two hours due to lightning threats in the morning but the American still managed to control his fitness levels well.

“I was a lot more tired than yesterday as I was building my momentum throughout the day. During the play suspension, I was waiting around and having a lot of time to think about the round to come.

“That can wear you down a little bit and fatigue can set in. But I did a good job of managing that well today,” said Baldwin.

Lawson was meanwhile pleased with his overall efforts despite an uneventful round where he marked his card with four birdies and a bogey.

“I started off pretty slow as I made a soft bogey on the third hole. I was just grinding it out throughout the day. I didn’t play really that great but managed to keep the ball in play on most occasions. So a three-under-par score for today is good,” said Lawson.

While cautious about the quality of the field, the Australian is pleased to be heading into the weekend as one of the leading contenders.

“There are lots of other good players that can go out there and play really well so I just have to control what I’m doing and see how it goes.

“It’s always a good sign when you play in the last group as that means you’re doing well,” said Lawson

China’s Yang Guangming, Yang Yinong and She Zihan were the highest placed Chinese after they signed 136 total, trailing Baldwin by five shots in tied-sixth place.

Yang admitted he had to improve on his putting to stand any chance of a breakthrough on the China Tour.

“I was hitting the ball very well today but need to improve my putting. My score could have been better if I was able to putt better.

“It was pretty tough with the conditions yesterday but it was better today. My form has been good so far. I just need to focus on my putting,” said Yang.

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