Ree makes move to share lead with Cho and Lawson at Fragrant Hills International Beijing Open
Beijing, June 24: Ryann Ree of the United States took advantage of his good form to move atop the leaderboard with his third round five-under-par 66 at the Fragrant Hills International Beijing Open on Saturday.
Ree, who started the day tied for third, traded seven birdies against two bogeys for a three-day total of 13-under-par to share the third round lead with Korea’s Rak Hyun Cho and Australia’s Deyen Lawson at the Fragrant Hills International Golf Club.
Cho matched Ree’s effort by carding a similar 66 to put himself in contention for a back-to-back victory following his win at the China Tour’s season-opening event in Henan a fortnight ago.
Lawson, who held a share of the opening round lead but slipped to second place after the second round, regained prime spot by returning with a 67 while China’s Yang Guangming spearheaded the local charge by signing for a 66 to take fourth place, two shots back of the leaders with his 202 total.
Playing in only his second tournament on the China Tour, Ree showed no signs of nerves as he stamped his authority at the ¥1.35 million event, which is also the second stop on the China Tour.
“I was playing really well today. I’ve to adopt the same mindset and tell myself, it’s just another tournament and it doesn’t matter. I just have to go with the flow,” said Ree, who started playing competitive golf since he was seven.
The American stumbled early with an opening bogey but fired three successive birdies from the fourth hole to reach the turn in 34. He birdied 10 but dropped another shot on 11.
Ree quickly regained his composure and charged back into contention with further birdies on holes 13, 16 and 18.
“The golf course is in good shape despite all the rain we had. The greens are good and they are rolling okay. I‘m able to make a lot more putts.
“It has been a while since I’ve been in the last group so I hope to get over those nerves early and then take it one shot at a time,” said Ree, when asked about his strategy for the final round.
Cho overcame his early stumble where he dropped a shot on the par-five third but stormed home strongly with five birdies and an eagle on the 18th hole.
“I started poorly with my bogey on the third hole. I was upset as everyone else in the group was making birdie on that hole. I made a great birdie on seven and that kept the momentum going.
“I had a chance to go for another birdie on nine but I had a poor chip and missed my birdie putt. I wasn’t happy that I reached the turn in even-par. But the putts started falling in my back-nine. The only thing bad about the back-nine was on 17 where I hit a poor chip shot and missed a five-foot par,” said Cho.
The Korean is now hopeful of repeating his final day heroics in Henan where he cruised to a three-shot victory for his maiden breakthrough on the China Tour.
“I’ll play like what I played in my first tournament. Hopefully I can start out well like what I did. Under these conditions, I probably have to shoot about four or five-under to win again,” said Cho.
Lawson was delighted to find himself back in pole position after mixing his card with six birdies and two bogeys.
“I started off pretty well with three birdies consecutive birdies before making another on nine to get to four-under on the front-nine.
“I made a couple of soft bogeys after the turn but I was happy I was able to bounce back with birdies on 16 and 18. But all in all I’m happy as I’m in a good position for tomorrow,” said the Australian.
Yang meanwhile credited his putting for giving him a chance to vie for his maiden China Tour title after finishing tied-20th in the season-opening event.
“I was more composed today. I only dropped one shot on the 12th hole and I’m overall very pleased. I’m glad I’m able to putt better today. This has given me much confident. I truly enjoyed my round today as all of us in the group were having fun,” said Yang.