We’re coming: Chinese golfers fire warning to more-fancied opponents on PGA and European Tours
Zhang Xinjun and Dou Zecheng share the lead in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, while Jin Daxing leads the Volvo China Open in Beijing
China’s Zhang Xinjun and Dou Zecheng closed with three birdies as they combined for a 12-under par 60 and a share of the lead in the best-ball first round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Zhang and Dou, the first two players from China to hold PGA Tour membership, joined Americans Lucas Glover and Chez Reavie atop the leader board at TPC Louisiana in the US PGA Tour event that features two-man teams.
Thursday’s opening round and Saturday’s third round are best-ball, while the second and final rounds will be alternate-shot play.
Zhang, 30 and a two-time winner on the PGA Tour China developmental circuit, had five birdies on the day.
The 21-year-old Dou, whose five professional wins include a Web.com tour triumph last year that helped him secure his PGA Tour card, posted eight birdies as they surged home playing in the final group in a round that got off to a slow start in heavy rain.
Good friends Reavie and Glover played early and opened with four birdies in their first five holes. They rolled from there, and said teamwork on the greens was the key to their success.
“We read them right early, and that just gave us good feeling for the rest of the day,” Glover said. “Chez birdied the first two. We were dead on with both the reads, so we just kept it going.
“We changed maybe a ball or two in a direction one way or the other and that was it. We were pretty right on. Luckily we were hitting our lines also.”
Six teams were tied for third two shots back. That included the English duo of Chris Paisley and Tommy Fleetwood, who are playing the unusual event for the first time.
“It’s just good fun and it’s very relaxing,” said Fleetwood. “It’s obviously a big tournament, but it’s kind of just good fun having a good friend alongside you and a really good player as well. It’s a slightly more relaxed atmosphere than normal.”
The group on 62 also included Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown, who fell in a play-off last year to Australian Cameron Smith and Sweden’s Jonas Blixt as the tournament debuted the team format.
Blixt and Smith opened their title defence with a 65 that left them tied for 21st.
Another Chinese player in Jin Daxing is impressing in the Volvo China Open in Beijing and is eight under overall early on the second day after holding the lead overnight.
On the LPGA Tour, Hong Kong’s Tiffany Chan Tsz-ching is right in the mix after the first day of the Mediheal Championship in California, carding a one-under-par 71 to be within three shots of the lead.