March 23, 2018

England’s Harrold three clear of China’s Chen in Chongqing

CHONGQING, CHINA—England’s William Harrold carded a 6-under-par 66 at Poly Golf Club to move to 11-under and open up a three-stroke lead at the halfway stage of the RMB 1.5 million Chongqing Championship, the second event on this season’s PGA TOUR Series-China.

Local favorite Changping Chen, who has worked at the host club since 2012, finished with four successive birdies to shoot a second 68 and secure solo second at 8-under.

Australian Max McCardle (69) was third at 7-under, one ahead of China’s Wenyi “Kevin” Huang (68), Chinese Taipei youngster Chiehpo “Max” Lee (69) and England’s Callum Tarren (67), who has finished runner-up in his last four PGA TOUR Series-China events.

China’s Yi Cao (67), Hong Kong’s Motin Yeung (67), Canada’s Richard Jung (67) and USA’s Jesse Speirs (69) were all 5-under.

Harrold, nicknamed the “Swinging Farmer”, tied for second at last week’s Chengdu Championship and put himself in position for another strong finish after improving on his opening 67, which gave him a share of the lead on Thursday.

“I’m just going to try and keep hitting it on the fairway, nice and straight, and hole lots of putts,” said Harrold, who’s attempting to become the Tour’s first English winner.

“It’s good, I like having a lead. I would like to win, but we’ll worry about that when it happens. It’s just nice to be playing tomorrow and Sunday.”

Chen teed off on No. 11 and didn’t find his opening-day rhythm until the end of his round when he followed a bogey on No. 6 with four straight birdies to set the early clubhouse lead. Even though the 33-year-old is enjoying seeing his name on the leaderboard, he’s eager to see how he performs over the weekend.

“Even though I bogeyed the sixth, I made a great birdie after that which cheered me up. Then I made three more birdies right after, so that was my turning point,” said Chen, who beat his previous record of 69 on the club’s South Course for the second straight day.

“It was great to know that all my friends from the club are cheering for me, but I’m not going to overthink it. There are 36 more holes to play in the next two days, and I am excited to see what I am capable of doing.”

Indonesia No. 2 Rory Hie, who shared the first-round lead, is tied for 11th after a 73, while USA’s Charlie Saxon, a two-time winner in 2016, matched Harrold’s 66 to better his own opening round by 10 strokes and move into a tie for 20th.

Jeffrey Kang, who won last week’s Chengdu Championship, missed the cut after rounds of 72 and 77 put him 5-over, three shots over the cut line. A total of 64 players made the cut.

Every tournament on this year’s PGA TOUR Series-China offers RMB 1.5 million, a 25-percent increase over purse levels from 2016.

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.