Liang among leaders at Hong Kong Open

Liang Wen-chong plays his tee shot on the 11th hole during the second round of the Hong Kong Open on Nov. 12, 2009.

Liang Wen-chong plays his tee shot on the 11th hole during the second round of the Hong Kong Open on Nov. 12, 2009.

HONG KONG – Wenchong Liang shot a bogey-free 5-under 65 Friday to move into a four-way tie for the lead after the second round of the Hong Kong Open.

Liang, the first Chinese player to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit, made five birdies at the Hong Kong Golf Club to move to 9-under 131. Charl Schwartzel (66) also had five birdies after a bogey on the first hole, while Gregory Bourdy shot a 67 and Robert-Jan Derksen had a 68 to claim a share of the lead.

“I’m in a good position and I know that the next two days will be crucial,” the 31-year-old Liang said. “If I continue to play as well as I’ve been doing the past two days, this will be a very good week for me.”

photo

Lee Westwood lines up his putt on the 15th hole during the second round of the Hong Kong Open on Nov. 13.

Derksen, who was 7 under on Thursday, turned in a mixed performance Friday with six birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey.

“You can’t shoot 63 every day, so I’m pleased with the score,” the Dutchman said, noting the colder weather.

Rory Sabbatini (67) and Chinnarat Phadungsil (66) were one stroke behind the leaders, and Udorn Duangdecha squandered his overnight lead by shooting 4 over in the second round, dropping into a tie for 34th at 4 under.

PGA Championship winner Y.E. Yang briefly held the clubhouse lead after shooting a 67 to bring him to 7 under. Asia’s first major winner finished the day tied for seventh with defending champion Wen-tang Lin of Taiwan (69), Danny Chia (66), David Dixon (69) and Scott Strange (65).

Rory McIlroy outpaced his chief rival for the European Tour money title, Lee Westwood. McIlroy had three birdies and a bogey, while Westwood only managed a 70 to fall farther back to 34th, where he’s tied with 2003 British Open champion Ben Curtis (72) and seven others.

Westwood said he was having trouble adjusting to the course in his Hong Kong debut.

“These greens are a complete mystery to me,” the Englishman said. “Can’t pick a line, can’t get the speed. Just at a massive disadvantage here being my first time here.”

Westwood currently holds a slender lead over McIlroy in the Race to Dubai competition, with Hong Kong the final stop before the season-ending championship that carries a bonus pool of $7.5 million. Liang and Derksen are looking to secure berths in Dubai, which is limited to the top 60 players on the money list after the $2.5 million Hong Kong tournament. The Chinese is currently No. 60 and the Dutchman is No. 78.

Eight-time European Tour Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie just made the cut after shooting a 69 to move to 2 under overall. But 1998 Masters and British Open champion Mark O’Meara fell out of contention after shooting a 5-over 75, as did defending European Tour Order of Merit winner Robert Karlsson (69) and Oliver Wilson (72).

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