HONG KONG, 4 Nov, 2016, (HK Golfer News Wire) - First-round leader Alex Kang (69) and China’s Li Jianshan (66) were two shots back at The Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club, host and title sponsor of Hong Kong’s first Ping An Bank China Tour – PGA TOUR China Series event.
England’s Michael Skelton (68) was fifth at six-under, one ahead of China’s Ouyang Zheng (68), American Sam Chien (67) and Australian Scott Barr (67), the reigning HKPGA Championship winner.
Charlie Saxon, second on the Order of Merit, moved to four-under with a 66, a score matched by money list leader Marty Dou Zecheng who made up ground after an opening 73.
Hong Kong No. 1 Jason Hak just made the cut after a 74. Teeing off on 10, Hak was three-under after eight holes but a triple bogey on the par-five 18th derailed his round.
Chen, 20, is looking for his first win on the PGA TOUR China Series after three runner-up finishes, including in Wuhan in May and Chongqing in September.
“This year has been my best year and I always finish okay, so I’m just looking for the win. I won a lot of junior tournaments and a couple of amateur tournaments, but I’m looking for my first pro win,” said the athletic six-footer, a Manchester United fan who turned pro in late 2014.
Born and raised in Zhuhai, just an hour’s ferry ride from Hong Kong, Chen is spending an increasing amount of time in California, training in Los Angeles and often staying in San Francisco where his younger sister – who “hates” golf – is attending high school.
“I wasn’t putting well earlier in the year so I changed my putter and putting coach, and I’ve spent a lot more time on my putting. Today I hit it well and putted well. I made many putts and I felt confident,” said Chen, who sank a 30-footer on seven, one of five birdies to complement an eagle on the par-five 15th.
Yuan is also looking for his first win on the Series and put himself in contention after a topsy-turvy round that featured a double bogey on the second hole followed by eight birdies and two bogeys.
“The double didn’t bother me a whole lot,” said Yuan, whose best finish on the Series was second at last November’s Hainan Open.
“If you hit the ball into the fairways, you’ll have success and that’s what I did for most of the day. I even missed short eagle putts from a few feet on 18 and five, but I’m happy with the long birdie putts I made on 14 and 17.”
Kang, 26, is third on the Order of Merit and the Californian is now looking for his second win of the season as he seeks to consolidate his top-five position to ensure status on next year’s Web.com Tour.
“I didn’t get the putter rolling and I also didn’t hit it close, so I think I need to go work on hitting it closer and making more putts,” said Kang, elder brother of LPGA Tour star Danielle Kang. “I obviously wished I’d shot in the low 60s, but there are two more rounds to go. I’ll figure it out.”