New attitude at Macao Open pays off for relaxed Taiwanese Hung Chien-yao
Halfway leader says a session with a top US coach has allowed him to enjoy his game more
Taiwan's Hung Chien-yao said he had silenced his inner demons before coming to the US$1 million Venetian Macao Open and the results were there for all to see as he took a one-stroke lead at the halfway point of the event thanks to a seven-under second round of 64 that left him at 10 under par.
"I'd been talking to myself too much and I have just changed my attitude," said Hung, who birdied the par-five 18th to grab the outright lead on a day of high drama at the Macau Golf and Country Club.
"The first six months of the year I played many events and I didn't play good at all. Now I am more relaxed and more confident," said the 23-year-old.
Four players had been sharing the lead of this Asian Tour event with Hung until his heroics on the last.
Defending champion Anirban Lahiri, of India, his compatriot Chiragh Kumar, Wang Jeung-hun, of South Korea, and Brazilian Adilson da Silva now turn to the business end of the tournament one-stroke back and with a share of second on nine-under-par 133.
Four-time major winner Ernie Els became the tournament's highest-profile casualty, missing the cut - set at even par - after the South African's two-round total of one-over-par 143.
And it was a day that also saw another slice of history for rising star Jin Cheng, the 17-year-old recent winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.
Jin's two-round total of two-under-par 140 made the Chinese youngster the first amateur player to make the weekend at the Macau Open since 1999, when the feat was recorded by none other than future Chinese number one and the country's first Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, Liang Wenchong.
But the focus as the sun set was on Hung, fresh from the United States and a lesson with leading coach Dave Stockton, who is looking for his first Asian Tour title.
"He told me that we're humans and make mistakes and that we should enjoy our golf," said Hung. "I achieved my goal here. I am leading for a day and one day will be enough. My goal on the weekend is to learn and gain more experience from people like Anirban. He's a superstar right now."
It sounded like last year's winner Lahiri was ready to share his thoughts, too, as he left the course.
The tricky rough that has greeted players here this week has played on many minds and Lahiri said the trick over the final two days would be to stay as far away from it as possible.
"It's funny as it's not very long," he said. "You can barely advance it 100 yards with a wedge. That for me is the biggest challenge this week."