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Japan's Fujita on top at Pine Valley Beijing Open
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Japan's Hiroyuki Fujita grabbed the second round lead at the Pine Valley Beijing Open after a solid seven-under-par 65 on Friday.

Fujita, 39, fired nine birdies against two dropped shots as he led the Japanese contingent at the Pine Valley Golf Club.

With a 12-under-par 132 total, Fujita gained a two stroke advantage over 19-year-old Thai star Chinnarat Phadungsil's 69. Chinese Taipei veteran Wang Ter-chang leapt up to lone third place when he fired an impressive nine-under-par 63 which equaled the course record set by Adam Scott in 2005.

Big hitting Australian Scott Hend fired his second straight 68 in lone fourth place while former Asian Tour No 1 Thongchai Jaidee shot a 66 and was in the mix in joint fifth spot alongside Australia's Gary Simpson who improved with a 65.

Fujita, who won the 2003 Okinawa Open, stood tall at the top of the pack in the $1 million event sanctioned for the first time by the Japan Golf Tour alongside the Asian Tour and China Golf Association.

"I'm glad to see a strong relationship between the Japan Golf Tour and the Asian Tour and I hope to see more events like this in the future. It's really exciting for the players to compete here under a mixed field," said Fujita, who is a five-time winner on the local circuit.

Iain Steel of Malaysia, who was the joint overnight leader, struck a 73 and was among those in a tie for ninth place after a 138 total.

Fan Zhipeng was China's best performer after two rounds.

Zhang Lianwei and Li Chao, who between them have won 14 events on the Omega China Tour, and 20-year-old amateur Zhang Xinjun also made the cut on an otherwise disappointing day for local players.

Fan made the most of his 6.30 tee-time to shoot a two-under-par 70 to go two-under for the event and lie in joint-25th position.

After teeing off on hole 10, the 29-year-old bagged six birdies, including three in a row from hole 15, against four bogeys to shoot the day's best round by a Chinese player.

"I'm really happy to make the cut in my third Asian Tour event, as I didn't play well in last year's Pine Valley Beijing Open and missed the cut by one stroke in the Volvo China Open last month," said Fan, who represented China in the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar.

The inexperienced Zhang Xinjun, who surprised many with an opening 71 in his first Asian Tour event, survived some nervy closing holes to post a 73 and join Zhang Lianwei and Li at even-par, which proved to be the cut line.

"I thought even-par would be the cut, so I was nervous on the back nine, especially as it became cold and wet after the rain," said the young amateur.

Zhang Lianwei, who last year finished equal-10th in the inaugural event, teed off on hole 10 and looked set to miss the weekend before snagging vital birdies on the par-three sixth and par-five eighth to record a 71 and squeeze above the cut line.

However, there was disappointment for 18-year-old amateurs Hu Mu, who shot 74, and Su Dong, who fell away with a 77.

(China Daily May 10, 2008)

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