Poulter holds off Westwood in Zhengzhou on day two of Shui On Land China Golf Challenge
Zhengzhou, China: World number two Lee Westwood drew within a shot of leader Ian Poulter after four holes of the Shui On Land China Golf Challenge following a whirlwind stop in Zhengzhou on the second day of the week-long, seven-city event.
Westwood birdied hole three of the 18-hole tournament and finished the day level with Liang Wen-chong on even-par, while US Open champion Rory McIlroy stayed four-over after a birdie and a bogey at the new Jinsha Lake Golf Club.
Following an early-morning flight aboard Bombardier jets from Shanghai, the quartet was whisked to the venue by Rolls-Royce cars for a lavish grand opening that was broadcast live on television as the international players visited the capital of Henan province for the first time. Poulter and Rory McIlroy were then cheered and mobbed like rock stars as the players practised on the driving range before the Englishman held his lead at one-under with pars at the 554-yard par-five and the 408-yard par-four.
“I played two good holes, so I’m still leading and it feels good,” said the colourful Poulter, standing out in his check trousers. “They’re very excited about their golf over here in China and we had good fun on the range Rory was at one end and I was at the other, and we ended up hitting shots and trying to get each group of fans to cheer louder than the other.”
The 35-year-old also praised the host venue, which presented one of its new golf villas to Westwood during the opening ceremony and also organised two hole-in-one challenges, including one for a BMW.
“It was interesting to arrive and go straight on stage and be on live television. It showed they really appreciated us coming and we’re very honoured to be given that kind of ovation,” Poulter added.“They love golf in China.
They’ve got a great facility here at Jinsha Lake and I think the course looks very, very good. We only played four holes, but you can see it’s going to be a spectacular layout.” Westwood, who started the day one-over, hit a sand-wedge approach to four feet to birdie
the day’s opening hole and cut a happy figure after drawing closer to his compatriot after a lively second day.
“Rory is a bit of a rock star and Ian sort of likes that as well, so it was fun being on the driving range and creating some noise,” said the former world number one, who has 22 European Tour titles and won twice in Asia earlier this year.
“Coming and playing in China continually amazes me, the appetite for golf. It’s incredible. You visit cities you’ve never heard of and they have eight, nine, 10 million people, something like London. It really is an incredible country.”
The players then flew to Beijing, where they will play two holes each at the Topwin Golf and Country Club and the Jade Island International Golf Club on Wednesday before an evening flight to Dalian, where they will play at the 36-hole Red Flag Valley.
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