Hong Kong’s Jason Hak Shun-yat has led at the end of a day’s play five times previously on the PGA Tour China Series this season, but now crucially as the Hong Kong ace edges closer to a breakthrough first win as a professional, the 22-year-old is taking an advantage into the final round.
Hak had earlier been forced to return to Topwin Golf and Country Club early on Saturday morning to complete the final five holes of his second round at the Pingan Bank Open after Friday’s play was halted early due to lighting and added two further birdies to his card to complete a bogey-free six-under-par 66.
That effort established a one-shot lead over American Charlie Saxon, and despite Hak making a slow start to his third round later in the day, three back nine birdies on Saturday afternoon helped maintain that advantage after a solid three-under 69.
China’s Zhang Xinjun has joined Saxon heading the chasing pack at 16-under overall, with a further two strokes back to South Korea’s Lee Seung-yun.
“It’s tough when you have the lead. But you just have to fight it, especially like today when you’re not swinging well and nothing is going my way,” said Hak, who tops the leaderboard at 17-under-par.
“You just have to keep grinding, and you can’t give up. I had to do what I had to do to get it done, and now I’ll continue on the journey of learning that. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
So far, so good: Hong Kong’s Jason Hak maintains one shot lead at PGA Tour China Series event in Beijing
This season, Hak has led after the second round of the Ping An Private Bank Wanda Open, the first and second rounds of the Yulongwan Yunnan Open and now also the first two rounds this week in Beijing.
Hak eventually finished tied for 24th and tied for eighth at those tournaments before claiming the best result of his career last week after finishing joint second at the NewTown KingRun Open, results which have lifted the 22-year-old up to 15th on the order of merit.
“Golf still doesn’t change,” he added. “I have to keep playing the way I play, and I think I’ll be in good shape.”
Having reached the turn of his third round in level par after cancelling out an eighth hole birdie with only his second bogey of the week a hole later, Hak found himself trailing playing partner Saxon by three after the American had erased the one-shot deficit.
In the hunt: Hong Kong’s Jason Hak ideally placed to claim first win in Beijing despite weather delay
But Hak maintained his composure on the way home with three birdies in five holes from the 11th, while Saxon shipped a double-bogey five at the 13th to slip down the leaderboard after being forced to eventually settle for a three-under 69.
Zhang, meanwhile, made his move by dropping just one shot in a seven-under-par 65 which included an eagle two at the par four 14th.