Ironman Felipe Aguilar storms into lead at China Open

Both Damien McGrane and Michael Hoey miss the cut despite sitting at one under

Chile’s Felipe Aguila leads the China Open. Photograph: Afp

Chile’s Felipe Aguila leads the China Open. Photograph: Afp

 

A hole-in-one helped Korea’s Tae-hoon Kim surge into contention for his first European Tour title on another day of low scoring in the Volvo China Open.

Kim holed out on the 177-yard 13th hole at Topwin Golf and Country Club in a remarkable run of scoring which saw him play a 12-hole stretch in nine under par.

The world number 563 dropped his only shot of the day on the 17th but still signed for a superb 64 to finish nine under par, two shots behind clubhouse leader Felipe Aguilar of Chile.

“I played well and after I got the hole-in-one I became really confident and finished really well,” Kim said.

“It was about 165 metres but with the view from the tee, we couldn’t see the hole, only the top of the flag. I was aiming a little to the left of the pin and I just hit a seven iron, it was a beautiful shot and the galleries beside the green shouted out so that’s how I knew.”

However the Irish contingent in the tournament are going home before the weekend, with both Damien McGrane and Michael Hoey missing the two under cut mark by a stroke.

Aguilar had stormed home in 31 to add a flawless 65 to his opening 68 and set the target on 11 under par, one shot ahead of Sweden’s Alex Noren and Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger.

The 41-year-old had missed the cut in six straight events before finishing tied 58th in the Shenzhen International last week and admitted completing an Ironman Triathlon over the winter had taken its toll.

“It’s been a tough beginning of the year so hopefully this will be a turnaround point,” Aguilar told European Tour Radio.

“I think I believe my doctors when they said the Ironman was going to affect my fitness for the first two months (of the year). They said it could take 45 days (to recover) and it took close to 60 days.

“It takes a lot of time and energy and both sports don’t go along with each other. I look back on it as a great experience and I’ll do it again after I quit playing golf.”

Noren was also error-free in a second consecutive 67, while Wiesberger carded four birdies and one bogey in his 69.

“I felt relaxed out there,” Wiesberger said. “I played great golf yesterday and scored really well in tough conditions yesterday so I was looking forward to getting out there this morning and trying to do the same.

“I played decent, not quite as well as yesterday, especially off the tee and was struggling with the pace of my putting early on. I left a lot of putts short but all in all I feel well on the golf course and it’s a good first two days.”

Overnight leader Hennie Otto was among the later starters and was two shots off the lead with four holes to play before play was suspended due to the threat of lightning.

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