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Taipei: Local hope Hsu Chia-jen launched his quest for a first career victory by opening up a three-stroke lead after the second round of the Ballantine’s Taiwan Championship on Friday.
Hsu, currently ranked fourth on the Asian Development Tour Order of Merit, produced a sparkling seven-under-par 65 for a two-day total of 10-under-par 134 at the North Bay Golf and Country Club.
The evergreen Lu Wen-teh of Chinese Taipei,  rolled back the years to register a 67 for a 137 total to lie in second place while Myanmar’s Zaw Moe (69) is three strokes back on 140 at the US$90,000 Asian Development Tour tournament.
Another local talent Chan Yih-shin battled to an impressive 66 for a two-day total of 141 while multiple Asian Tour winners Lin Wen-tang and Wang Ter-chang are placed fifth alongside countryman Su Chin-an and Australia’s Brad Smith on 142 at the inaugural tournament.
Hsu, 29, got off to a strong start with three consecutive birdies from the second hole before making the turn in 32. He added five birdies on the back nine but was disappointed to shoot a double bogey on the 17th hole where his tee shot found water.
“It was disappointing (the double bogey) because I was having such a great round,” said Hsu whose grandfather, Hsu Chi-san was a former Singapore Open champion in 1977.
Hsu, a former Taiwan Amateur Open champion, is confident of extending his lead over the next two days.
“Out of so many tournaments I have played in, this is probably the best chance I have of winning because I know the course so well,” he said.
Lu, a five-time Asian Tour champion, stayed in touch with the leader by rolling in two huge putts on the fifth and 10th holes for birdie from 20 feet. The 47-year-old credited his solid round to a new set of clubs.
“It was a good round for me as I was trying to go for par on each hole. It was great to sink the two putts (fifth and 10th holes) because it kept the momentum going.
“This is my fourth set which I have changed this season and it has been working well for me. I hope my form will carry on to the weekend,” said Lu, who sank 27 putts today.
Moe, who is playing competitively for the fifth consecutive week, is hoping he will garner enough strength to make a surge up the leader board.
“I have been playing solid golf for the past four weeks and I’m glad to carry that form this week. I just need to go out there and do what I have been doing,” said Moe, who has won once on the Asian Tour.
“I don’t feel tired because I have been resting a lot. That’s the key to my consistent round as I returned to the hotel and rested yesterday (Thursday). I will do the same today,” he added.
A total of 53 players made the weekend rounds after the cut was set at 153.

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