June 20, 2019

Kocher takes clubhouse lead at weather-delayed Huangshan Championship

HUANGSHAN, China—On a tight and narrow course, and under wet and rainy conditions, American David Kocher managed to fire an opening, 7-under 65 and take a one-shot lead at the weather-delayed Huangshan Championship. Due to heavy rain, officials pushed back all tee times four hours, and Kocher was just one of 64 players able to complete his round after officials suspended play at 6:49 p.m., due to darkness. The first round is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m., Friday morning—the  second round starting at approximately 11 a.m. 

It was a slow start at Hidden Tiger Golf Club, with Kocher not teeing off until 11:47 a.m., after initially scheduled to start at 7:47. Despite the long weather delay, Kocher managed to card eight birdies and just one bogey to get off to a great start at the season’s eighth event of the year.

American Brad Gehl was also off to an impressive start. Although just completing nine holes, the Oklahoma State University graduate fired six birdies including a stretch of five in a row from holes 13-17 to lie in solo second at 6-under with half his round still to play.

Kocher, who won the Haikou Championship and is third on the Order of Merit, didn’t seem to let the damp conditions bother him and impressively managed to stay out of trouble the entire day on a course which can be very penal off the tees.

“I did a good job keeping it in play. I only hit six drivers and hit a lot of 3-woods on the back nine to keep it in the fairway and just try to aim as close to the middle of the green. It worked well,” said Kocher. “My only bogey was when I missed a one-footer, so that was unfortunate, but I just told myself to keep going with it and I was playing well so luckily that didn’t have too big an effect on me.”

Kocher’s first birdie came on No. 2, and after a great par save on 3, Kocher carded two more birdies and one bogey on the front nine before racking up five birdies on the back nine to finish strong and set the clubhouse lead.

“On hole 3, I hit my wedge over the green after a bad tee shot, where I barely found my ball. I managed to get up and down nicely,” said Kocher. “Then on 17, I made a really good birdie. I was at 6-under starting that hole, and I was thinking if I could make pars on the last two holes, I would be in a pretty good position, and I ended up making a birdie.”