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Choi leads the pack at China Open

SOUTH Korea's Choi Ho-sung shot a 4-under-par 68 to take a two-stroke lead after the second round of the Volvo China Open in Beijing yesterday.

Choi was at 6-under at the halfway mark of the tournament, ahead of overnight leader Markus Brier of Austria, who shot a 1-over 73 following his first round 67.

Brier, the 2007 champion stumbled early with bogies on the first two holes at the par-72, 7,321-yard Beijing CBD International Golf Club course. He is 4-under overall, tied for second with Thailand's Chapchai Nirat (71).

Nirat set an Asian Tour record to win the SAIL Open in India last month when he finished with a new tournament low of 32-under par.

Also in contention for the weekend at three strokes off the lead were Paul McGinley of Ireland and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain (70), winner of the 2006 Asian Open in Shanghai.

McGinley fired a 67, the best round of the day, and said he had rediscovered his putting touch after a rough opening round.

"I played pretty well yesterday but putted really, really poorly. I played pretty much the same (Friday) but putted fantastically, that's the difference," said McGinley, who shot a 2-over-par 74 in the opening round.

Veteran Colin Montgomerie of Scotland, Europe's 2010 Ryder Cup captain, shot a second consecutive 73 and appeared out of contention at 2-over, 8 shots behind Choi. He was joined by defending champion Damien McGrane, who had a 74.

The US$2.2 million China Open is jointly sanctioned by the European Tour and is the first tournament in the OneAsia series launched by the PGA of Australasia, the China Golf Association and the Korean Golf Association and PGA.

OneAsia has been created as a rival to the established Asian Tour in a battle for control of professional golf on the continent.

Local hero Liang Wenchong shot 74, while Englishman Simon Dyson, the 2000 champion, battled his way to a 73 to finish on 2-under.

Rising Chinese star Alex Wu Ashun, who finished joint runner-up in last month's Dell Championship in Xiamen following two top-10s on the Asian Tour, shot 72 to stay 2-over.

China's Zhang Lianwei, the 2003 champion and only player to compete in all 15 editions of his national Open, shot a 74 in the second round and is 3-over in the tournament.


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