February 28, 2018

Amateur Cheng Jin extends lead at halfway stage of China Q-School

LIUZHOU, GUANGXI, CHINA—Renowned amateur Cheng Jin extended his lead to three shots after a second-round, 1-under 71 moved him to 5-under at the PGA TOUR Series-China Mainland China Qualifying Tournament.

In contrast to his seven-birdie 68 on day one, the 19-year-old had a steadier second round, with three birdies and two bogeys to extend his lead over Basiteng Fang (72). Dongyu Wang, Jin’s good friend and former national teammate, shot 71 to move into third place, at 1-under.

Huang Mingjie (72), Yixin Xing (70) and Bin Yan (74) were tied for fourth, at 2-over, at Wolong Lake Golf Club, where 15 full cards are available. The next 14 finishers and ties will earn conditional status for 2018.

In his second season playing golf for the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, Jin was disappointed in his putting despite remaining in pole position.

“The conditions were pretty similar to [Tuesday], but I just putted bad, to be honest,” said Jin, who won the 2015 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship and played in the 2016 Masters Tournament. “I hit the ball really good, was really satisfied with my ball striking, but unfortunately just couldn’t do anything on the greens.”

Although the young amateur remained on track to earn a full card, he again played down talk of when he might turn pro.

“Honestly, I don’t know when I’m turning pro because after the NCAA Championships end, there are a lot of big summer tournaments like the U.S. Amateur. If I get my card here, then I can also play on the Tour. But there is also the Asian Games in October, so there are so many factors.”

Second-placed Fang, 24, plans to play a full season on the Tour if he can claim his card this week. Two-over through 15 holes, Fang fired two birdies in his final three holes to finish even-par for the day and 2-under overall.

“The front nine was good, but my putting was not as good as yesterday. From holes 11 to 13, I hit three bogeys in a row, and my short putts were not good, but in the last three holes I played better and made two birdies,” Fang said.

Wang was also one of three players under par after two rounds and happy to stay within reach of the leader.

“My ball-striking was better than yesterday and I’m feeling pretty good about today. If I had to give myself a rating, I’d give myself 90 out of 100,” said Wang, who has qualified to play in April’s Volvo China Open in Beijing.

“My putting has also been pretty good the last two days. I’m just trying to work on my chipping and my course management with the wind over the next two days.”

After a one-year hiatus, PGA TOUR Series-China will resume with a 14-tournament schedule that starts with the Chengdu Championship at Luxehills International Country Club (March 15-18) and the Chongqing Championship at Poly Golf Club (March 22-25).

Every tournament will offer RMB 1.5 million, a 25-percent increase over purse levels from 2016. The top five on the Order of Merit will earn status on the 2019 Web.com Tour, the path to the PGA TOUR.

The PGA TOUR established PGA TOUR Series-China in 2014 as its third international developmental tour, following in the footsteps of PGA TOUR Latinoamerica and the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada. Since its inception, PGA TOUR Series-China players have received Official World Golf Ranking points for top finishes at official tournaments.