September 7, 2018

Australia’s Macpherson leads Saxon, Winslow at Qinhuangdao Championship

QINHUANGDAO, HEBEI, CHINA—Australia’s Bryden Macpherson fired a tournament-low 8-under 64 to move to 10-under and take a one-stroke lead at the halfway stage of the RMB 1.5 million Qinhuangdao Championship, the 11th event of this year’s PGA TOUR Series-China.

Order of Merit leader Charlie Saxon shot 67 at Qinhuangdao Poly Golf Club to share second with fellow American Joseph Winslow (66) at 9-under, one ahead of England’s Stephen Lewton (69) and Hong Kong’s Shunyat “Jason” Hak (67).

England’s Adam Sagar carded a 69 to lie sixth at 7-under, two shots ahead of rising Chinese star Yuan “Carl” Yechun (69) and compatriot Yinong Yang (68), Korean duo Daejin Jeong (67) and Seongkeun Cha (68), and Australia’s Max McCardle (71).

Macpherson, who won the Tour’s Order of Merit in 2015 and returned to the Tour in 2016, fired eight birdies in a bogey-free round. The 28-year-old from Melbourne birdied Nos. 1, 3 and 5 before picking up further shots at 10, 13, 15, 16 and 17 as he looks for his first win on the Tour this year.

“I like the way the course plays. It makes you hit a few shots and it makes you play all the way until the end. There’s no real let-up where you can just go into cruise control. Start to finish, it’s pretty difficult,” Macpherson said of the 7,185-yard layout.

“It’s been kind of a strange year because I haven’t played that well results-wise, but I actually feel better with my game all round then I ever have.”

Saxon, 25, who leads the Order of Merit after two wins plus another three top-10s, was also bogey-free as he fired five birdies on a course the big-hitting American believes gives him an advantage.

“I’m hitting a lot of low, stinging two-irons that are running and getting myself into positions to have short irons in, and I really like that style of golf. Anything that caters for ball-strikers is good for me,” said Saxon.

“I’m playing really well and I feel really comfortable out there. I just hope I can get a couple of putts to go in and I like my chances for the weekend.”

Winslow tied for fourth at last week’s Suzhou Championship, is fourth on the Order of Merit, and was impressive again as he racked up seven birdies against just one bogey.

Also a big hitter, Winslow is full of confidence as he bids for his second title of the year, following his breakthrough win at the Yantai Championship in July.

“I’m really comfortable being on top of the leaderboard. It’s a place where I feel like I belong and I’ve worked hard to get there. It’s just one of those things of taking it shot by shot and staying focused,” said Winslow.

“I’m looking forward to battling it out, but I’m just going to play my game and be ready to hold that trophy on Sunday.”

Any player ranked in the top-25 after this week’s Qinhuangdao Championship is exempt to the Second Stage of the Tour Qualifying Tournament, which will be held from October 30-November 2 and November 6-9.

From the final Order of Merit, the top-5 will earn status on next year’s Tour, top-10 players are exempt to the Final Stage of the Tour Qualifying Tournament from December 6-9 and any player ranked 11-25 is exempt to the Second Qualifying Stage.

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.