Cheonan, October 25 - Major champion and former winner Y. E. Yang, looking for a morale-boosting victory after a poor season, nosed ahead midway through the third round of the fog-disrupted Kolon Korea Open on Saturday.
Yang, who won the Kolon Korea Open for the second time in 2010 a year after his success at the PGA Championship, shot three birdies in his opening nine holes to move to three-under for the tournament at Woo Jeong Hills Country Club.
He was a stroke ahead of six players - countrymen Chang Yi-keun, Jeon Yun-cheol, Park Ju-hyuk, Ham Jeong-woo and Kang Ji-man and Australia’s Jun Seok Lee - when play was halted because of darkness.
The OneAsia tournament has been delayed by early-morning fog every day and nobody finished the third round on Saturday. Play is scheduled to resume at 7am on Sunday.
As the halfway leaders faltered early in the third round, Yang took his opportunity to strike with birdies at the second, fifth and eighth hole.
“I know the course and understand how to play it,” said Yang, a two-time winner on OneAsia. “I will just keep my pace and play my game tomorrow and not attack the course.”
Earlier on Saturday, in-form Lee, runner-up in OneAsia’s Nanshan China Masters at the beginning of the month, birdied the 18th hole to join a four-way tie for the halfway lead.
Lee, who is enjoying a banner season after winning Q-School’s final stage at Sabah in March, carded a 68 to sit atop the leaderboard with Kang (69), Jeon (71) and amateur Ham (68).
Kang finished his second round on Friday while Lee, Jeon and Ham completed their remaining holes on Saturday morning.
Korean-born Lee, currently sixth on the OneAsia Order of Merit with winnings of US$118, 996, started his third round with a bogey and also bogeyed the seventh - his last hole before play was stopped - which dropped him to two-under par for the tournament.
Ham also slipped off the lead with back-to-back bogeys at the third and fourth holes. The same fate had befallen first round leader Jeon who was tripped by bogeys on the fifth and seventh hole.
Even veteran Kang, who was grinding it out with consecutive pars from the start, succumbed to a double bogey on the seventh hole to add himself to the six-man logjam in second spot.
“Woo Jeong Hills has a way of biting back if you lose your concentration,” said Kang. “I know I will play well if I concentrate."
Chang, who recorded a top-10 finish at the Nanshan China Masters, moved into the picture with a four-under 32 on the front nine that included five birdies and a lone bogey.
Rory Hie from Indonesia, who finished his second round on Friday, had played both rounds in 1-over, what put him in share of 18th place.
Leading second round scores (Korean unless stated) (Par 71)
138 - Kang Ji-man 69-69, Jeon Yun-cheol 67-71, Jun Seok Lee (AUS) 70-68, Ham Jeong-woo (AM) 70-68
141 - Park Ju-hyuk 71-70, Kim Seung-hyuk 73-68
142 - Park Jun-won 71-71, Hwang In-choon 73-69, Choi Jin-ho 71-71, Hong Soon-sang 72-70, Y.E. Yang 72-70
144 - Rory Hie (INA) 72-72