Jason Hak Shun-yat’s pursuit of a breakthrough professional title continued on Friday despite the threat of lightning halting proceedings early at the PGA Tour China Series’ Pingan Bank Open in Beijing.
In-form overnight leader Hak had completed 13 holes of his second round at Topwin Golf and Country Club in a bogey-free four-under-par when players were forced off the course shortly before 5.30pm.
That left the 22-year-old from Hong Kong 12-under-par overall and just one shot American behind clubhouse leader Charlie Saxon, who had earlier carded a flawless six-under 66 to progress to 13-under despite an early morning fog delay.
And having blazed nine birdies in his first round eight-under 64, Hak is already three clear of order of merit leader Dou Zecheng from China, his compatriot Zhang Xinjun and South Korea’s Cho Rak-hyun with the trio in the clubhouse tied for third at nine-under.
“I had a pretty consistent round today. I missed a couple of short putts going out, but that’s all right. It’s golf. You make putts, you miss putts,” said Hak, who finished tied for second at last week’s NewTown KingRun Open in Chongqing to move up to a career-high in the world rankings.
Cut above the rest: Hong Kong’s Jason Hak claims first round lead at PGA Tour China Series event in Beijing
“I played all right. I gave myself a lot of chances, which is what I need to do and what I’m going to keep trying to do.”
Having shipped just one bogey in his first round, Hak made the ideal start to his second circuit with a 12 foot downhill putt for birdie at the first.
Hak was unable to convert tough birdie chances from inside eight feet at the third and fifth, but continued his progress with a six foot conversion at the sixth – which was the hole he bogeyed a day earlier.
An up-and-down conversion for birdie from 15 feet at the eighth maintained his momentum before claiming his final gain of the day at the 11th before the horn sounded to end proceedings two holes later with just under half the field yet to complete their rounds.
Show me the money: Hong Kong’s Jason Hak claims biggest cheque of professional career at PGA China Tour Series event
“I’m feeling great. It doesn’t matter what the scores are of the guys ahead of me. The nature of golf is you’re playing against the golf course,” added Hak, who has moved up to 15th on the order of merit following back-to-back top 10 finishes.
“I try to hit every shot the same, try to be relaxed and do everything I can to do the best I can. There really is no pressure.
“There are a lot of great players out here. Maybe me and Charlie are in a better situation than others right now, but there are a lot of great players, and I’m sure they’ll be right there at the end.”