Thursday 26 April 2018

Soomin Lee takes command at Shenzhen International

Joost Luiten trails by three at the Shenzhen International
Joost Luiten trails by three at the Shenzhen International

Korea's Soomin Lee produced another flawless performance to set an imposing target in the weather-affected Shenzhen International on Friday.

Lee has yet to drop a shot at Genzon Golf Club after adding a bogey-free 65 to his opening 66 to finish 13 under par, three shots clear of the in-form Joost Luiten, who recorded a 66.

Ireland's Paul Dunne, who held a share of the 54-hole lead in the Open at St Andrews last year while still an amateur, was three shots further back alongside South Africa's Brandon Stone after the pair carded rounds of 69 and 70 respectively.

More than five hours of play was lost due to two separate thunderstorms, leaving more than half the field to complete the second round on Saturday.

Lee is playing just the sixth European Tour event of his career, but finished third on his debut in Hong Kong last October and was second in the Maybank Championship Malaysia in February, when he led by two with three to play, but double-bogeyed at the 16th and 18th.

"Today I was very excited about my round because I made a lot of putts and hit good, straight shots so everything was perfect," Lee said. "I have two more days now to try and stay bogey free.

"I feel this course is good for me because there are soft greens and heavy rough. The breaks were okay because after I made three birdies, I felt a little bit off and I needed some rest, so that was actually good for me.

"On the third day I just need to stick to my game and stay focused on keeping my score bogey free. In Malaysia I got a second place finish, so that was really good for me, and now I feel a bit more comfortable in the lead than I did in Malaysia."

Luiten, whose second place in the Spanish Open last week was his fifth top-10 finish in eight events this season, had also started on the back nine and eagled the short par-four 11th before adding four birdies in a row from the 15th.

The world number 64 also birdied the second and fourth to join Lee on 12 under par, but dropped his first shot of the day on the difficult fifth and also bogeyed the eighth after failing to get up and down from an awkward lie on the edge of a greenside bunker.

" I'm happy, but felt like I left a couple shots out there after the last break," Luiten said. "I missed three short putts on my last five holes and so you come off the course with a little bit of an annoying feeling.

"But all in all it's been a really good day for me. I hit the ball nicely, especially the first 11 or 12 holes, and I'm also rolling the ball nice on the greens, making some good putts.

"After the first suspension I came back and I was on the birdie train straight away, so that was good. The second time I had a bit more trouble getting into the round. It's been a long day, but all the guys need to deal with it and that's not an excuse."

Dunne, who turned professional after helping Great Britain and Ireland to a record Walker Cup victory over the United States and earned his card at the qualifying school, carded three birdies and two bogeys on the front nine before making an eagle on the 13th.

"I'm really pleased with that," the 23-year-old said. "It was kind of a weird day. Yesterday my swing felt very comfortable and today I felt like I was fighting it a little bit. I'm kind of proud of how I hung in there after a bit of a ropey start and to be able to get a decent round out of it.

"It's been an interesting day. I had a half seven tee time, you get here at half six and you finish at nearly six. It's been a long day. I'm glad it's finished and I'm glad I get a lie in tomorrow while everyone has to wake up and finish their second round."

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