On the first decision day in the BMW Asian Open at the Tomson Pudong Club in Shanghai, it is a pleasure to start the second day's report with justified focus on some excellent performances by China's own golfers.
The two rounds of the day were played by Zhang Lianwei and Hu Mu, with strong support from both Liang Wenchong and Li Chao, putting four Chinese in the top dozen.
Zhang Lianwei will go out tomorrow in the last group as joint-leader alongside Robert Derksen at 5-under. He was the only player in the field today who managed a round free of bogeys, an extraordinary performance on a day of strong gusting winds that sent scores soaring and pushed the cut to +3.
Zhang iced the cake for the local support with a beautiful finish on the 477-yard dogleg 18th. A pushed drive found sand on the inside of the dogleg, about 160 yards from the pin, but encouraged by playing partner Hedblom finding the green from a similar position, he played a fine shot to the upper tier of the green before rolling in a long downhill put from about 20 feet.
Zhang has been working on a new swing with a higher ball flight, but today's windy conditions were the wrong time for putting it to the test. He reverted to his previous style of play and it paid dividends.
On a day on which he would have accepted a par score as a fine performance, he expressed himself 'delighted' at so many Chinese finishing in strong positions, and took the opportunity to praise his caddie Su Dong, one of China's top amateurs, for his enthusiasm and willingness to learn.
Chinese amateur golf was very much on the menu. Although Hu Mu was not the lowest scorer, he surely deserves the accolade of round of the day for his 3-under 69. And it could have been even better. After bogeying the 10th, his first, he put together a run of five birdies over the next nine holes to take him to 3-under for the tournament. A bogey 6 on the par-5 2nd put a brake on his progress, and he completed the round with all pars.
One of Hu's playing partners felt that he had suffered a bit of a rush of adrenaline after the early birdies, and started looking for shots that weren't there. With luck a night's rest and a chance to relax will put him in the right frame of mind to consolidate his position tomorrow and build to a strong finish on Sunday.
Alongside Hu Mu on –2 is Liang Wenchong, who has shot two consecutive 71s. Currently top of the Chinese rankings, Liang finished in a tie for 8th last week and is clearly in top form. Liang was one of the early starters; his round included four birdies and three bogeys. Like Zhang, he finished with a birdie – in his case on the par-5 9th.
Li Chao, who also featured prominently in the early stages of last week's tournament, is a shot further back on –1. His par round included two birdies and two bogeys.
Alongside Zhang in the final pairing will be Robert Derksen. Dutchman Derksen, who last won on The European Tour International Schedule three years ago, got off to a great start with birdies at the tenth and 11th holes and thereafter picked up another three shots with just two bogeys on the card to move to five under par 139.