May 11, 2018

Korea’s Baek, England’s Lewton share clubhouse lead at Haikou Championship

HAIKOU, HAINAN, CHINA—Korean Todd Baek (65-74) and England’s Stephen Lewton (70-69) shared the clubhouse lead at 5-under at the Haikou Championship on Friday when play was suspended at 7.07 p.m. due to darkness.

Singapore’s Quincy Quek (73-67) was one behind and held the third-best 36-hole score on Friday, when 91 players had yet to finish their second round.

American Charlie Saxon, Thursday’s clubhouse leader with an opening 6-under 66 before play was suspended soon after midday, played just one hole of his postponed second round on Friday evening and remained 6-under.

Japanese teenager Yuwa Kosaihira, who shot 67 on Thursday, joined Saxon on 6-under after a birdie on his only hole on Friday, after starting on the 440-yard, par-4 10th.

American Trevor Sluman was 5-under after an opening 67, having resumed his first round on No. 18 on Friday morning and carded a bogey. He will tee off his second round at 8.00 a.m. on Saturday, when the third round is scheduled to start at 2.30 p.m.

Baek, 26, played 35 holes on Friday. He led after an opening 7-under 65, bagging eight birdies in his last 17 holes following a bogey on his solitary hole on Thursday. Played in searing heat, his second round featured three birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey.

In the inaugural PGA TOUR Series-China in 2014, the burly Korean won the Chateau Junding Penglai Open in Yantai and finished fifth on the Order of Merit to earn status on the Tour, where he played two full seasons in 2015 and 2016.

“It would be nice to get another win,” Baek said. “I was hurt last year so I’m just trying to get my game back in shape. It’s starting to come around so I’m excited for the rest of the tournament.”

Last year, he played seven events on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada from July to September and recorded a second, third and two further top-10s.

Now, after a tie for 18th at last week’s Changsha Championship, he’s 22nd in the PGA TOUR Series-China Order of Merit and focused on again finishing in the top five of the money list to secure status on the Tour.

“My goal is to get back on the Tour again,” Baek said. “I was out there and in Canada for the last few years so I’m hoping to get back out there, but we have to see how it goes.”

Lewton, who had full status on European Tour in 2011, played 34 holes on Friday, with just a 50-minute break in-between rounds of 70 and 69.

“I just tried to keep my momentum going from this morning because I was playing pretty well towards the end, so my goal was to just try to keep playing like that,” said Lewton, 35.

“Luckily, I won’t be starting until late on Saturday, so I’ll try to get some rest and recover, and get my head in the right space.

Quek, 35, played on the Tour in 2014 and 2015, and is happy to be back in Haikou where he earned his card for this year at the second International Qualifying Tournament in February.

“I think the conditions are great. I have always liked conditions in Haikou,” Quek said. “I think the course has a great design and I have a lot of fond memories here.”

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.