Australia’s Deyen Lawson shot a bogey-free 6-under 64 to share the lead with Sweden’s Oskar Arvidsson (65) at 9-under heading into the weekend at the RMB 2 million Clearwater Bay Open, the 14th and final event of this year’s PGA TOUR Series-China.
First-round leader Nick Voke, fifth on the Order of Merit, is one back after a 67 at The Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club as the New Zealand No. 4 seeks his third win in his fifth event on the Tour.
Korean Jiung Jeong (66) and American Matthew Negri (67) share fourth at 6-under, one ahead of two-time winner Gunn Charoenkul (68) of Thailand, American Ben Lein (68) – who both eagled the par-5 18th – and Italy’s Cristiano Terragni.
Hong Kong No. 1 Motin Yeung, seeking to break in the top-five of the Order of Merit to earn a Web.com Tour card, carded a 68 to tie for 22nd at 1-under and will be joined at the weekend by local players Shunyat “Jason” Hak (69) and amateurs Matthew Cheung (69) and Terrence Ng (73), with a total of 69 players making the cut. Lawson, who tied for second at the New Zealand PGA Championship in February, teed off on 10 and birdied four of his first six holes as well as Nos. 4 and 7.
After recording top-12 finishes in the first four of his six PGA TOUR Series-China events since June, Lawson is currently 32nd on the Order of Merit and now bidding to become the first Australian to win on this year’s PGA TOUR Series-China and succeed compatriots Daniel Nisbet and James Marchesani as a Clearwater Bay Open winner.
“I felt pretty comfortable. Everything is reasonably solid. Doesn’t feel amazing, but I’m hitting it in the right spots and not leaving myself in any silly positions or short-sighting. I’ve matured as a golfer a little bit in the last year or two,” said the 27-year-old Lawson, who played in last week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.
Arvidsson, 51st in the Order of Merit, started the day one behind Voke and bogeyed the fifth before holing birdie putts at the four successive par-4 holes from seven to 10.
The tall Swede then lit up his round by hitting his pitching-wedge approach at the par-4 13th straight into the cup for an eagle and finished bogey-birdie as he seeks a first win in his first season on the Tour.
“I hit a pitching wedge from the middle of the fairway, about 128 metres, and it went straight into the hole and stayed there. Overall, I just hit the ball really well, gave myself a lot of chances for birdies and made a few of them,” said Arvidsson, whose best result this season was a tie for fourth in June’s Guilin Championship.
Voke teed off on 10 and had four birdies and one bogey as he continues his remarkable recent run in China, which has propelled him to World No. 327.
This week, the 23-year-old is primarily seeking to consolidate his position in the top-five of the Order of Merit to secure status on next year’s Web.com Tour, with Order of Merit leader Charlie Saxon and second-placed Callum Tarren already assured of their cards.
“I just think you have to drive the ball well here,” said Voke, who eagled the par-5 18th on Thursday to take the first-round lead.
“If you look at Callum and Charlie they are both really good ball strikers and they can control their trajectory. I think if you have good control over your golf ball you can succeed out there, and I’ve had that control and I hope it lasts.”
The top-five on the PGA TOUR Series-China Order of Merit will automatically earn status on next year’s Web.com Tour, the top-10 will be eligible for the Final Stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament from 6 – 9 December and players 11 – 25 will be exempt to the Second Qualifying Stage.