McGreevy pulls ahead in Nantong

NANTONG, China(May 24 ,2019)—Despite his consistent play this year, performances that have put Max McGreevy at No. 5 on the Order of Merit, one thing the University of Oklahoma graduate hasn’t done is hold a lead after any PGA TOUR Series-China tournament round. That dry spell ended Friday as McGreevy, after shooting a second consecutive 5-under 67, sits alone at the top of the Nantong Championship leaderboard. He leads the duo of Samuel Del Val and Woojin Jung by two shots, with four others three shots back.

With three top-fives this year—more than any other player—and made cuts in all five previous tournaments, what else is missing from McGreevy’s resume is a win. His close calls came at the Sanya Championship (tied for second), the Beijing Championship (tied for third) and the Chongqing Championship (fourth). After 13 birdies in the first two rounds at Nantong Yangtze River Golf Club, McGreevy looks to break through for the first time in his professional career that has included a season on the Web.com Tour (2018) and the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada (2017).

“I’m just glad I’m giving myself another chance. My game feels really good,” said McGreevy following the round.

It did take McGreevy a while to get going Friday, with four consecutive birdies to start his day. Birdies on the fifth and sixth holes, along with a birdie on the par-5 ninth, moved him to 3-under as he headed to the back nine. He kept the momentum going with a second consecutive par-5 birdie, at No. 10. He then suffered his only bogey of the day, at No. 14. McGreevy rebounded nicely after that, with a birdie-par-par-birdie finish to close to his day.

Despite bookend bogeys to start and close his round, Del Val still finds himself in solid position entering the weekend. In between those bogeys at Nos. 1 and 18, the Spaniard put together four birdies, giving him a share of second place with South Korea’s Jung, who was smiling following his round after a closing birdie on his final hole of the day.

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Did you know that in 2017, Max McGreevy’s first as a professional, he played on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada? That season, McGreevy had three top-10 finishes. In 2019, playing on PGA TOUR Series-China, McGreevy already has three top-10 finishes.

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Key Information

  • The cut came at 1-over 145, with 72 players advancing to the weekend.
  • This is only the second time this season that players over-par have made the cut. The cutline at the Haikou Championship was 4-over.
  • The 72 players making the cut is second most in 2019, behind the 74 who played the weekend at the Chongqing Championship and the Beijing Championship.
  • The low round of the day belonged to American Dylan Healey, with his 6-under 66. Combined with his opening 72, Healey is at 6-under and tied for eighth.
  • Last week’s winner, Luke Kwon, moved into contention with his 5-under 67 Friday. He’s tied for eighth.
  • A day after playing bogey-free golf in the opening round while also making eight birdies, Brad Gehl could only muster two birdies in the second round against three bogeys. Even with the disappointing day, Gehl is still at 7-under and only three shots shy of Max McGreevy’s lead. Gehl is tied for fourth through 36 holes.
  • In his second PGA TOUR Series-China appearance since finishing runner-up at the Chongqing Championship, China’s Yanwei Liu shot rounds of 72-75 to miss the cut. In his only other start in 2019, Liu tied for 19th at the Qinhuangdao Championship.
  • A quick start to his second round moved China’s Guozhen Xu into contention through 36 holes. Starting his day on the back nine at Nantong Yangtze River Golf Club, Xu eagled the par-5 10th hole and moved to 3-under with a birdie at No. 14. His birdie at the 17th left him at 4-under as he made the turn. Two bogeys and two birdies put him at 4-under for the day and 6-under for the tournament. In a tie for eighth, he’s the top player from China at the halfway point.
  • The 2019 tournament winners in the field this week all have good opportunities to triumph for a second time. Trevor Sluman, Luke Kwon and David Kocher are all at 6-under and tied for eighth. Richard Jung (Beijing Championship) and Taihei Sato (Chongqing Championship) are not playing this week.
  • Eight players are tied for eighth, at 6-under, four shots behind leader Max McGreevy.
  • Enqi Liang (tied for 44th) and Linqiang Li (tied for 62nd) were the only amateurs to make the 36-hole cut.
  • Four players have withdrawn from the tournament (Ryann Ree, Harry Boyd, Changwei Wang and Zihong Zhang) while two others (Aaron Pike and Luke Toomey) did not start.

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Quotable

“It was tough to start the day. Luckily I grew up in this, where it blows 20 mph—so, what, 30 kilometers per hour?—so I’m kind of used to it.” –Max McGreevy on playing in the strong wind

“I got off to a solid start, with a lot of pars. I kind of played steady because I knew it was going to play hard today. I just tried to give myself a ton of chances.” –Max McGreevy 

“It kind of depends on the shot. If it’s left to right, I try to play with it. If it’s right to left, I usually go up against it.” –Max McGreevy on his strategy playing in the wind

“It got pretty breezy out there today. Luckily, I was able to maneuver around it. It was fun, honestly. It felt like I was back home playing in the wind. I loved it.” –Max McGreevy

“We were kind of battling it out today. I made a long putt on the last hole to tie him to shoot 5-under, so he couldn’t beat me.”–Max McGreevy on playing with former college teammate and current travel roommate Luke Kwon

“They’ve put the pins in hard positions the first two days, so I think the scores are really good for the players.” –Woojin Jung

“I was just trying to be smart and not aggressive. I did that well on the front nine.” –Woojin Jung

“I’d have to say my irons are carrying my game right now.” –Myles Creighton

“For the most part you’re coming in with 8- or 9-irons. The wind today suited the par-5s today, which were downwind.” –Myles Creighton

“It’s good in the middle of your round to have two par-5s like that.” –Myles Creighton on the par-5 ninth and 10th holes

“The bunkers are really good this week, so if you do end up in one of the fairway bunkers, it’s not a huge penalty.” –Myles Creighton

It was very tricky and difficult to control your ball when the wind started picking up.” –Stephen Lewton

“On the first 11 holes, I hit the ball really, really good. Then the wheels kind of came off a little bit.” –Stephen Lewton on his double bogey-bogey, two-hole stretch on Nos. 12 and 13

“These greens are really tricky, so it’s important to leave your ball in the right position if you do miss the green.” –Stephen Lewton

Tournament Fast Fact

This is the sixth tournament of the season. Following the completion of the Nantong Championship, PGA TOUR Series-China will observe a two-week break before playing back-to-back tournaments—the Suzhou Open (June 10-16) and the Huangshan Championship (June 17-23).

Second-Round Weather Report

Mostly cloudy and warm. High of 82. Wind SE at 13-18 mph, with gusts to 22 mph.