Ominous Yang on the move
YE Yang has ominously moved just one shot behind Volvo China Open leader Kim Do-hoon after the first two rounds.
YE Yang was ominously sitting just one shot behind fellow Korean Kim Do-hoon after the second round of the Volvo China Open at Jinji Lake International Golf Club on Friday.
Yang, the first Asian to win a major when he triumphed at last year’s US PGA Championship and who last week finished eighth at The Masters, embarked on a back-nine birdie blitz that rocketed him into contention behind his lesser known, but clearly talented compatriot.
With Kim proving his first-round joint lead with Asian No 1 Thongchai Jaidee was no fluke by topping the second round leaderboard at 11-under-par after a solid three-under 69, Yang closed with four consecutive birdies which keyed a six-under-par 66 to earn a share of second alongside Thongchai and Welshman Jamie Donaldson.
Thongchai battled his usually reliable putter to card a two under 70, while Donaldson posted six birdies in a 68 to improve to 10-under-par overall.
A further shot behind the trio in joint second place heading into the weekend, is Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal and Fin Mikko Ilonen who finished at 9-under, China’s No 1 golfer Liang Wen-chong at 8-under and US Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin and Koreans Kim Dae-hyun and Noh Seung-yul at 7-under.
English young gun Oliver Fisher might well have been right up there with them after shrugging away his opening 73 and posting eight sensational birdies over the first 12 holes, but unfortunately a lone bogey at the last dropped him to a 7-under 65 and a 6-under total.
Still if he can play more of this golf on a course that is not giving too much away, he might still prove to be a real threat to the leaders.
Yang, in the meantime, scramble par at the last but conceded one bogey on his second circuit after hitting his approach into a deep greenside pot bunker which are a feature of this course’s links style back nine.
“I managed to score quite well despite the conditions yesterday and today the conditions were more friendly and I was able to be a little bit more aggressive,” said the 38-year-old, who opened with a first round 68.
“But after my first birdie at the first hole I dropped a shot at the second and I thought it would be an up and down roller-coaster round, but fortunately I played within my realm and played a bit better than yesterday and I am satisfied with the score.
“I think the crucial hole for me was the birdie at number nine as it opened the gate to the back nine performance.
“I also had an opportunity to make a birdie on 10 but missed that, but overall the birdie on nine left me quite positivity and knowing that I needed to be in the area of 10 or 11 under par, I knew I had to play more aggressively.”
While Yang saved par at his final hole of a bright but breezy second day, Kim will hope his only dropped shot of the day after misjudging the wind into the final green will not become a factor over the weekend.
The 21-year-old is looking to follow up a third place at the Luxehills Chengdu Open at the start of April and a maiden victory on the Korean Tour at the SBS Tomato Open just last week.
“I thought I would be quite nervous as it is a big tournament but I am very comfortable after two rounds,” said the 2006 Asian Games gold medallist.
“I hope to play well this week and hopefully become the champion. I am not nervous and I feel comfortable after winning last week in Korea.
“I shot 64 last week and I feel I am the hottest Korean player right now.”
Donaldson, who finished sixth at the Open de Andalucia in Malaga at the end of March, raised hopes of a maiden European Tour title as last year’s SAS Masters runner-up continues to turn his game around after losing his card in 2006.
“I played well in Malaga and last year was great and I am ready to win. I have been playing some good golf and I have just got to keep doing the same stuff and hopefully it will happen,” said Donaldson, who posted three other top-10 finishes in 2009.
“Taking the step back to the Challenge Tour gives you the kick that you need.
“You drop down a level and you start realising what you get out of it, which is not a lot financially and physically.
“It gives you a good telling off and you realise where you want to be and where you want to get to. It’s just a big reality check that you don’t want to be there again.”
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