November 17, 2006 – Zhang Lianwei recaptured his glory days with a brilliant second-round 63 to race up the UBS Hong Kong Open leaderboard on Friday.
The former Chinese No.1 – without an international victory in three years – thrilled the galleries as he moved to eight-under-par 132.
Zhang recorded an eagle and seven birdies against two bogeys to finish the day in joint third, two shots behind pacesetter Jose Manuel Lara of Spain.
“I was driving well but mainly my putting was good,” said the 41-year-old Zhang after his stunning effort at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling.
“I finished 18 holes with 24 putts and, despite my two bogeys, I’m happy with my result. I’m excited to get into the third round in a good position.
“All along it’s a matter of putting, which is very important. In fact, I’ve been putting well in a couple of tournaments in China before coming here.”
Zhang, the only Chinese player ever to win a European Tour event, began the week ranked a lowly 122nd on the Asian Tour with earnings of just US$7,890.
But, after bogeying the opening hole, he proceeded to tear up Fanling’s par-70 Championship Course with the highlight of his round being an eagle on the par-five third.
“I hit a good drive and had 237 yards to the pin. I thought of using a five wood which needed a draw. I did it and was two yards away from the pin for the eagle,” he said.
Zhang said his change in fortune had come about due to an improvement in his putting.
“I’ve been struggling with my putting the past two years,” he explained. “I’ve tried 70 or 80 different putters. Finally I realised that it was not the putter but the stroke. So I changed the stroke and now I’m happy with it.”
The man who was the trailblazer for Chinese golf said he was looking forward to the weekend.
“This is a historic tournament. I’ve been in the top-10 many times before and I’ve enjoyed playing here very much.
“Since there are so many Asian and European stars playing here, I’ve tried to be more relaxed and I’ll stay that way. You never know what will happen in golf.”