Shandong, China; June 4: Drawing upon their vast experience in the game, New Zealand’s Michael Long (above) and Australian Scott Laycock (below) took a share of the third round lead in the Nanshan China Masters today.
The duo lead by a shot from Australian Craig Hancock who shot a 66 at Nanshan International Golf Club’s Danling Cuiyuan Course. The US$1 million tournament is the fifth event of the season on OneAsia.
“We have been around a long time and I know Scott really well so it’s nice to be in this position. There is no change in the game plan tomorrow. As we both know it is back to the routine of taking it shot by shot. There is no special formula,” said the 42-year-old Long.
Long is one of New Zealand’s most successful golfers, having won his national Open in 1996 and the Greg Norman Invitational three years later. He also claimed two titles on the Nationwide Tour in the United States in 2011 and 2003. He has also represented New Zealand in the World Cup and Alfred Dunhill Cup.
Eight months ago, after having been a professional for 20 years, he decided to cut back his playing schedule and started working for a signage company in Perth as their marketing manager.
“I had become a little bit tired of all the travelling and so I cut back on tournaments. I needed something to do at home to keep me busy so that is the main reason why I started work. This week is certainly an opportunity to reassess things but there are only so many Vijay Singhs or Jim Furyks in the world,” added the Kiwi, who carded a bogey free round with three birdies.
Laycock, who turns 40 this year, kicked off his year with a win at the Surf Coast Knockout in Australia, after beating compatriot Andrew Buckle in the final of the Match Play event.
A regular visitor to the region since the mid 90s, he enjoyed a successful spell on the Japan Golf Tour winning the Bridgestone Open in 2002. “I have hit some quality iron shots today but between the ninth and 16th I left myself birdie putts of over six metres which is too long. However, I dropped two birdie putts on 16 and 17 to make up for it,” said Laycock.
He dropped a shot on the second but caught Long by making five birdies.
“Winning the Surf Coast Knockout was awesome. It was a match play tournament and of course you’d rather win over four days of Strokeplay but a win is a win and it gave me a lot of confidence for this year.”
Hancock moved into contention despite an early start. “Considering I had to wake up at 4.30am to play the last two holes of my second round I have done really well. I played really well and had a bit of fun with two other Aussies. Since turning professional in 2009 I have mainly been playing Pro Ams in Australia. This week is far and away my best performance as a professional. It has not really sunk in yet. I was two over par on the first day so even then I was not expecting to feature,” said the 26-year-old Tasmanian.
China’s Wu Ashun and Zhang Xinjun, Pavit Tangkamolprasert from Thailand, Korean Kim Dae-hyun and Australians Andre Stolz, Mitchell Brown and Anthony Summers are tied for fourth place three shots off the lead.
China’s Liang Wenchong gave himself an outside chance to claim the title after a 66 to move to four under. He started his round on the back nine and birdied five in a row from the 14th and made eight birdies in total.
Leading third round scores:
206 – Michael Long (NZL) 70-67-69, Scott Laycock (AUS) 71-67-68
207 – Craig Hancock (AUS) 74-67-66
209 – Zhang Xinjun (CHN) 74-70-65, Wu Ashun (CHN) 68-75-66, Mitchell Brown (AUS) 71-70-68, Anthony Summers (AUS) 71-69-69, Andre Stolz (AUS) 70-68-71, Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA) 71-69-69, Kim Dae-hyun (KOR) 69-71-69
210 – Leigh McKechnie (AUS) 67-74-69, Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 71-68-71