Han tops China Open leaderboard





A brilliant opening round in Chengdu had teenage rookie Chang-won Han leading, with one stroke, the $3-million Volvo China Open.

An eight-under-par was shot by Han at the Luxehill International Country Club. Second place is presently shared by Dane Soren Kjeldsen, Bradley Dredge of Wales and England’s James Morrison and Ulsterman Gareth Maybin.

The 19-year old Han said “I missed a few easy shots but most of the time I was perfect and hit the fairways and got close to the pins.

“I felt comfortable going into those last four holes which I birdied. I didn’t really feel any pressure and it was a good finish.

“I’ve been playing golf for nine years. I’ve only been professional from this year. I play for the national team.

“I’ve not made much money yet as a professional so it would be nice to get some this week!”

Included in the group sharing seventh is Sergio Garcia who got a bogey-free 66. Following at 67 and three off the lead is former US Open champion Michael Campbell.

His early performance at the China Open reinforced the growing reputation of Chang-Won as one of Asia’s most exciting golf prospects.

There were 24 players, including South African Keith Horne, who were unable to finish as it was already dark. With four more holes to play, Horne had a seven under for the round.

Han got the golfing world’s attention when he won by six strokes the January OneAsia Qualifying School which earned for him full-playing rights for the 2011 season. He also won the Asian Amateur Championship in 2009.

“It’s very good weather and I got a bit lucky today,” he said.

“I missed a few easy shots but most of the time I was perfect and hit the fairways and got close to the pins. I felt comfortable going into those last four holes which I birdied.