South Korean Choi Ho-sung shot a 68 for a two-stroke lead over Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat and Austrian Markus Brier in the second round of the Volvo China Open yesterday.
Brier, the first-round leader and 2007 champion, posted a 73 and Chapchai a 71 to lie four-under at the Beijing CBD International Golf Club.
Irishman Paul McGinley had the best round of the day, firing a 67 to share fourth place with Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, three off the pace in the European Tour and OneAsia Tour co-sanctioned event.
Choi started badly with a bogey at the first, but soon soared up the leaderboard with birdies at five, six, 10, 11, 13 and 14, before a bogey at 15 put him six-under.
“I’m very surprised to be leading at this stage,” said the 35-year-old, who turned professional in 2001. “After bogeying the first, I knew I had to work hard and I kept that mindset for the next 17 holes. I was very focused. Mentally I’m very confident and I’ll concentrate on my approach shots and putting over the next two days.”
Chapchai, who set a scoring record of 32-under at last month’s Sail Open in India, said he felt in good form.
“My putter was good and my irons were good,” the Thai star said. “This course can be difficult if the wind gets up, but the condition is great.”
Brier remained in the hunt for his second China Open title in three years despite opening with two bogeys.
“Nothing spectacular, nothing disastrous,” the Austrian said. “It was a bad start, but I scrambled around. I have a platform and I’ll definitely go for it this weekend.”
McGinley, famous for playing in three successive winning Ryder Cups, shot five birdies in his first nine holes to race up the leaderboard and was happy with his game.
“The course was a lot easier for me today, as the wind didn’t blow this morning,” McGinley said.
But it was a less memorable day for local hero Liang Wenchong and defending champion Damien McGrane of Ireland, who share 28th place on two-over, alongside future Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie.