BEIJING, CHINA(May 9 , 2019)—Canada’s Richard Jung, South Korea’s Dongmin Kim and Thailand’s Gunn Charoenkul, each shot 6-under 66 to share the first-round lead at the RMB 1.6 million Beijing Championship, the fourth event of this year’s PGA TOUR Series-China.
England’s Stephen Lewton, 15th on the Order of Merit, shot 67 to share fourth with Austria’s Berni Reiter and South Korea’s Gyungsik Yoon at the Ian-Woosnam designed Topwin Golf and Country Club.
China’s Huilin Zhang, last year’s Beijing Championship runner-up, carded a 68 to share seventh with five other players. Defending champion Peter Campbell of Canada shot even-par to lie in a tie for 70th.
Jung, who also has full status on the Japan Tour, is playing in his second Tour event of the season and is off to a great start after a blemish-free opening round, which included six birdies.
Now Jung is trying to emulate his good, aggressive style of play from 2018, where he won the Tour’s Suzhou Open. He missed by one spot qualifying for the final stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament when he finished 11th on the 2018 Order of Merit.
“I was hitting all the fairways and greens. I probably only missed one fairway. I was hitting really close to the pins, and I played aggressive so it paid off,” said Jung of his opening round. “Last year, I set too many goals for myself, but this year I just want to play smart. I was making too many mistakes, so I’m playing smart now and the putts are dropping. I think I can do well.”
Charoenkul managed to bounce back from back-to-back bogeys to start his day by carding six birdies and an eagle (on the par-5 fourth) to match the clubhouse lead earlier set by Jung.
A Tour winner in both 2014 and 2016, Charoenkul has again been steady all year, recording two top 10s in the opening three events while looking to keep the putts dropping.
“I was a bit careless on the first two holes and three-putted on the first. I couldn’t really figure out the wind direction, but after that I got things figured out,” said Charoenkul. “I did what I needed to do and was saving par when I made mistakes and got some momentum going. If I can keep my putting going, I think I will have a good chance.”
Did you know that Dongmin Kim won the Tour’s third and final Global Qualifying Tournament in Phuket, Thailand, at age 20, making him fully exempt for the 2019 season. In the opening three events, Kim missed two cuts and tied for 54th at the Haikou Championship.
- The course this week is a par-72 totaling 7,178 yards.
- Gunn Charoenkul’s two victories on the Tour came at the 2014 Yunnan Open and 2016 Chongqing Newtown KingRun Open.
- Gunn Charoenkul has played every season on the Tour. He finished 14th, 16th, and seventh on the Tour’s Order of Merit from 2014-2016, respectively. A year ago, he finished 32nd.
- Gunn Charoenkul turned pro in 2011 and married his wife, Vichuda, last year. She often caddies for him.
- Richard Jung turned pro in 2012. His biggest professional win came at the Tour’s 2018 Suzhou Open, where he won a wire-to-wire victory.
- Richard Jung tied for 45th at the season-opening Chongqing Championship, the only other PGA TOUR Series-China event he has played in 2019.
- Despite Callum Tarren winning the Tour’s Order of Merit in 2018, the Tour has still yet to have a player from England win a tournament. Stephen Lewton is in a good position, tied for fourth through 18 holes.
- Stephen Lewton played a full year on the European Tour in 2011.
- Four players managed to go bogey-free in the opening round: Dongmin Kim, Richard Jung, Gyungsik Yoon and Huilin Zhang.
- Following his first season playing PGA TOUR Series-China, in 2014, Huilin Zhang has posted 12 top-10s in 34 starts between 2015 and 2018. He has at least two top-10s each year during that span. His best finish in 2019 is a tie for 19th at the Haikou Championship. Zhang is tied for seventh after the first round.
- There were 27 rounds in the 60s Thursday.
- Four players either withdrew or did not start the Beijing Championship because of illness. Aaron Wilkin, Joe Heraty, Ryan Chisnall and Velten Meyer all contracted food poisoning earlier in the week. Meyer, a first-year player from Germany, was on his way to the hospital Wednesday night for treatment when the car in which he was a backseat passenger was struck head on. Meyer suffered a concussion and received several stitches to his head.
“This is my seventh event in a row, and I’ve been having a good stretch of golf so far. I want to keep that going throughout the year. I think I fixed something in my swing which is working for me.” – Gunn Charoenkul
“I think the conditions are great this year. There’s a lot of grass on the fairways, and the greens are smooth. That helped with my putting, and I was just focused and committed to the putts and made some good ones.” – Richard Jung
“I drove it well today and putted reasonably well. I left a few putts short for birdie, but
overall I played really well. I think I missed two greens in reg(ulation).” – Stephen Lewton
“I like the layout of the course, so I hope I can keep playing well in the next few days.” – Stephen Lewton
“If you can hit most of the fairways on this course, the second shots aren’t that long but you need to have good control over your irons to get them the right distance, and I hit them really well today.” – Stephen Lewton
“It’s my first time playing this course and my first time in Beijing, but I like the course. It’s really nice, and the holes are all very different. It reminds me a little bit of my home in Austria, so it’s good.” – Berni Reiter
“I didn’t have any particular strategy. I was in bed for one and a half days. I thought I wouldn’t be able to play because I had fever from Tuesday night and stayed in bed until this morning until I got here and somehow managed to play and even score well.” – Berni Reiter on the food poisoning he contracted Tuesday
“I had some good stretches. I was 1-over after four holes, and then I had three birdies in a row, on holes 6, 7, and 8 and then again on holes 10, 11 and 12, which took me to 5-under. Then I missed a short putt on 15 for birdie and couldn’t make birdie on 18. But I’m still happy with today’s round.” – Berni Reiter
Tournament Fast Fact
Topwin Golf and Country Club was designed 1991 Masters Tournament champion, Ian Woosnam. This is the fourth PGA TOUR Series-China event hosted at Topwin.
First-Round Weather Report
Mostly sunny. High of 81. Wind SSE at 4 mph.