November 21, 2008 – Four players shared the lead after the second round of the UBS Hong Kong Open on Friday (November 21) to set the stage for an enthralling weekend’s play.
Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa carded a superb eight-under-par 62 – just one shot outside the course record – to grab a share of the lead at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling.
He was joined on eight-under 132 by English duo Oliver Fisher and Oliver Wilson and Thailand’s Chawalit Plaphol (top).
“I don’t want to say it could have been more, but I played well,” said Oosthuizen. “I hit 17 greens in regulation and I made some putts.
“So I’m hitting it well, I must say, and I’ve worked on my putting a bit the last five or six months, and it’s finally getting a bit more consistent. I’m quite confident.”
Fisher carded a 65 to go with his opening 67 and revealed his liking for Fanling’s tight par-70 Championship Course. “I played in the Faldo Series here a couple of times when I was younger, so I’m quite familiar with the place,” he said.
“It’s good to come to Hong Kong, and I like where we are staying on the island. It’s a nice change from back home and the weather is great right now, so it’s good.”
Fisher is starting his third year on the European Tour and is searching for his maiden victory.
“It’s gone so quickly, the first two years, and I’ve learnt so much. The biggest thing that I’ve noticed is that the top players are so consistent week in and week out, competing at the top of the leaderboard. That’s obviously where I want to be just as soon as I can.”
Wilson is another player looking for his first European Tour success after finishing runner-up eight times. He had six birdies and two bogeys as he carded his second successive 66.
“”I was a little disappointed, bogeying the last,” he admitted. “But I played pretty steady, holing some putts, which is the important thing. It’s nice to feel like you’re good and comfortable on the greens and I’ll just try to do the same things tomorrow.”
Like Wilson, Chawalit returned a second successive 66 as he led the charge to become Asia’s first winner of the UBS Hong Kong Open in a decade. Kang Wook Soon of Korea was the last Asian player to claim the trophy, in 1998.
“There will be some pressure for this event, being in the lead among all of the Europeans,” said Chawalit.
“I realise that an Asian player has not won here for quite a long time, and there are a lot of star players and a lot of European Tour players.”
Five players were a shot behind the leading quartet, on seven-under 133 – Italy’s Francesco Molinari (67), South African Richard Stern (69), Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie (65), Swede Johan Edfors (65) and Australian Marcus Fraser (66).
Big names within touching distance of the leaders at the UBS Hong Kong Open – once again co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours – included India’s Jeev Milkha Singh (six-under 134), Chinese No.1 Liang Wenchong (135) and Major winners John Daly and Bernhard Langer (both 136).
But the biggest smile of the day belonged to schoolboy amateur Jason Hak who eclipsed Sergio Garcia’s record as the youngest player ever to make the cut in a European Tour event.
Hak, born and raised in Hong Kong but now living with his family in Florida, returned his second straight even-par 70 to finish on the cut mark.
“I was maybe a little nervous, but all the players have been very nice to me and just told me to play well,” said Hak, who achieved his feat at the age of 14 years and 304 days.
Garcia was 15 years and 46 days when he made the cut at a tournament in his native Spain in 1995.