USA's Jeffrey Kang leads in Changsha, Chinese teen Yuxin Lin in the hunt

Editor:Sharon Lee
Updated:2018-05-07 09:21:51

  CHANGSHA, CHINA!American Jeffrey Kang, winner of the season-opening Chengdu Championship, shot an opening 6-under 66 to take a two-shot lead at the RMB 1.5 million Changsha Championship, the third event on this season's PGA TOUR Series-China.

  Chinese amateur Bi Liu, who tied for first in the Monday qualifier, and compatriot Hongfu Wu each shot 68 to share second with Canada's Beonyeong Lee and American Ryann Ree at Hunan Dragon Lake International Golf Club.

  Chinese teenager Yuxin Lin, competing in his first event on the Tour after playing in the Masters Tournament last month, shot 69 to tie for sixth, despite complaining of stomach pains from eating too much spicy food.

  Japan's Taihei Sato, Chinese Taipei's Chiehpo Lee and Americans Kurt Kitayama, Gregory Moss and Sam Chien also shot 69. China's Yi Cao, who won the Chongqing Championship in late March, shot six birdies but carded a 73 after double-bogeys on Nos. 12 and 17.

  Kang, 26, first announced himself on the Tour by winning the International Qualifying Tournament No. 1 at Haikou in February.

  He then won the season-opener in Chengdu before missing the cut in Chongqing the following week, but the University of Southern California alumni regained his confidence after racking up six birdies in a bogey-free round in Changsha.

  "I played very good. I had a gameplan going into the week and I feel like I executed it perfectly," said Kang, who also speaks fluent Korean.

  "I wanted to hit a lot of greens and I missed two, and the two misses were right by the green so I didn't have too much trouble and ended up with a good score."

  After winning two out of his three Tour events in 2018, Kang is among the favourites this week, but is not getting ahead of himself after his disappointment in Chongqing.

  "Obviously, it's a big confidence booster, but it's a new week every week," Kang said. "I was champion just a few weeks ago so today, it's a new week, a new day and that's how I'm going to go about it."

  Compatriot Ree, who played college golf for San Diego State, was thrilled with his performance, which included five birdies and one bogey.

  "I drove it pretty well and honestly I made everything I saw. My short game really saved me and I think that was really key," said Ree, 24.

  The teenage Lin was pleasantly surprised by his three-under round after struggling the entire day with stomach pains.

  "It was definitely something I ate, too much chilli and stuff. I am used to eating extremely spicy food like in Chengdu, Sichuan, but I guess I couldn't take it. It was too spicy," said Lin, who said he hasn't been scared off.

  "No, I'm still going to have spicy C but maybe just medium spicy this time."