American Loar, Liang share lead at TCL in China

Updated: March 16, 2006, 11:00 AM ET
Reuters

SANYA, China -- China's Liang Wen-Chong and American Edward Loar both fired a course record of 10-under-par 62 to share the lead after the first round of the $1 million TCL Classic on Hainan island on Thursday.

On a day of calm weather and low scoring at the par-72 Yalong Bay Golf Club, Loar carded nine birdies and an eagle on the 543-yard 13th hole, while Liang registered 10 birdies to soar to the top of the leaderboard at the co-sanctioned European and Asian Tour event.

Three players, Swede Joakim Haeggeman, South African Warren Abery and Australian Andrew Buckle, were tied for third at nine-under, one shot ahead of European order of merit leader David Howell.

Defending champion Paul Casey of Britain, looking for his third title in China in 12 months, recorded a solid seven-under 65 to join three others in a tie for seventh.

"It's a great way to start the week," Loar said of his first round and course record, which Liang matched later in the day.

"When you come out here, especially on a day like today, you know you have to make birdies and keep on making them. The scoring is going to be really good."

Liang, who has played seven years on the Asian Tour without a tournament win, did well on the front nine and caught fire on the back, sinking six birdies.

"I realized I had a chance of going really low when I was playing the 14th and then made four birdies in a row. That was the first time I thought I could have a really low score and started telling myself to put the ball in the right position to attack the flag," he said.

"To make four in a row was fantastic."

The 27-year-old wants a title in the next couple of years before bidding to be the first Chinese golfer to qualify for the PGA Tour in 2008.

Before Liang thrilled the home crowd with his birdie run, compatriot Zhang Lian-wei had a day to forget, carding an even-par 72 to stand way down in joint 107th place.

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