San Francisco, United States, August 8: China’s number one Li Haotong moved atop the leaderboard after carding a flawless five-under-par 65 to grab a two-shot lead at the halfway stage of the US PGA Championship on Friday.
The 25-year-old Li, who opened his campaign with a 67, fired five birdies to set the clubhouse target with on eight-under-par 132 and none of the later starters managed to hunt him down at the TPC Harding Park, which is hosting a Major championship for the first time.
He was briefly caught at the summit in the afternoon when overnight co-leader Jason Day made a fast start with back-to-back birdies in his opening five holes but would eventually settle for a share of second place following a 69.
Despite finding only four fairways on Friday, Li was able to take advantage of his spectacular approach play and a hot putter to put up a flawless display of golf in the year’s first Major championship. He opened with two straight birdies and picked up more on the fifth, ninth and 10th holes.
Li, who marked his best Major result yet with a third-place finish at The Open three years ago, became the first player from China to hold a lead or co-lead after a round in a Major. His bogey-free 132 is also his career-best 36-hole score on the PGA Tour.
“It (finishing third at The Open) was a long time ago,” said Li. “It’s definitely good to have that experience in my mind, and definitely it will help to play the next two rounds.
“I’ve still got two rounds left. Long way to go. Just want to play my best. If it happens, it happens,” he added.
Asian Tour winner Kurt Kitayama of the United States battled to a 72 to make the halfway cut by one on 140 while South African Shaun Norris, Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond and Joohyung Kim of Korea made their early exits following rounds of 73, 71 and 77 respectively.