June 22, 2019

Kocher leads heading into final day at Huangshan Championship

HUANGSHAN, China—American David Kocher shot a second round, 4-under 68 to move to 11-under, and he holds a three-shot lead heading into the third and final round at the weather-delayed Huangshan Championship. Officials reduced the event to 54 holes after heavy rain pushed back the start times on the first two days.

Kocher, 23, held a one-stroke lead following the first completed round, and after not playing a single hole Friday, Kocher managed to card four birdies in a bogey-free round Saturday to extend that lead to three going into Sunday, which predicts a sunny forecast.

South Korean Luke Kwon fired a 67 to lie in solo second, one shot ahead of compatriot Woojin Jung, the Chinese trio of Dinggen Chen, Zhengkai Bai and amateur Guxin Chen (no relation) and American Max McGreevy, who was teammates with Kwon at the University of Oklahoma.

Kocher, who started his round on hole 10, picked up his first birdie on the 13th before adding another on 18 to make the turn at 2-under. He then birdied No. 5 before closing with a birdie to give himself some momentum heading into the final round.

Even though not used to playing in the rain, Kocher has been thriving in the damp conditions, carding 12 birdies and just one bogey in his opening two rounds. 

"I don’t really know why Im playing so well in the rain. I actually don’t play in the rain too often, but it just happens to be a good week for me. I’m just hitting the ball really well,” said Kocher. “I had a few good ups and downs, so (I’m) happy to be where I am right now. A bogey-free round out there is good any day.”

Kocher, third on the Order of Merit, already has two top-10s, including a playoff victory at the Haikou Championship. Another win this week could jump him to No. 1 on the Order of Merit.

“My gameplan is simple. Just hit a ton of greens and try to go bogey-free again. If I can do that, hopefully I can come out on top,” said Kocher, who tied for 22nd last week in Suzhou. “I’ve been carrying the momentum since last week, so hopefully (I) can have another good day [Sunday].”