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Golf: Zhang leads in Nanjing golf open

Date: 2009-04-25

BEIJING : Zhang Lianwei battled to an even-par 72 to lead Australian Kurt Barnes by one after a wind-blown third round at the Sofitel Zhongshan IGC Open in Nanjing on Saturday.

Zhang lies five-under in the 1.2 million yuan (176,000 US dollar) tournament, followed by Barnes (73) and Craig Scott, who moved to third on one-under following a 72.

Yuan Hao finished with two three-putt bogeys for a 76 and a share of fourth on even-par with Ye Xionghui, who shot 75.

Zhang was cheered on by a vocal crowd as the 43-year-old bids to win the Sofitel title for the first time, having finished runner-up in the last two competitions at the Nanjing Zhongshan International Golf Club.

"It wasn't easy out there today, as the wind was strong," he said afterwards.

"It was really difficult to judge distance and choose the right clubs.

"Barnes played well. He's a good player and hits it long, although I'll be focused on my own game on Sunday."

Barnes, 27, is looking to become the first Australian to win on the Omega China Tour, but will have to overcome the local favourite.

"I really enjoyed playing with Zhang. We talked about kids and everything else but golf," said the man nicknamed 'Australia's John Daly', who is looking for his first victory since the 2005 Victorian Open.

"The wind was different from the first two days. I'm very pleased with the way I hit the ball, but just couldn't hole any putts. I played well enough to shoot under-par, so I'm a little disappointed, but I'm still in there."

Yuan, 29, picked up birdies on four and seven, but his round started to come apart at the par-five 11th, where the big-hitter racked up a triple-bogey.

"When I fell three strokes behind Zhang and Barnes, I wanted to catch up with them," said Yuan.

"I did well on the front nine, but I did poorly on the back nine."

Liu Guojie and Thailand's Wisut Arjanawat, who had three top-10 finishes on last year's Asian Tour, shared sixth place on one-over after shooting 73 and 74 respectively.

Former acrobat Yuan Tian (68), Korean teenager Eom Jae-woong (71) and Fan Zhipeng share eighth on three-over.

Leading third-round scores (par 72; Chinese unless stated):

211 - Zhang Lianwei 69-70-72

212 - Kurt Barnes (AUS) 69-70-73

215 - Craig Scott (AUS) 74-69-72

216 - Ye Xionghui 74-67-75, Yuan Hao 71-69-76

217 - Liu Guojie 76-68-73, Wisut Arjanawat (THA) 74-69-74