Koreans Y. E. Yang and Seukhyun Baek shot matching rounds of seven-under-par 63s to trail second round leader Danny Willett of England by one shot at the Omega European Masters on Friday.
Willett scaled up the leaderboard with a brilliant 62 to leave the Korean pair in a share of second place after they had earlier taken the morning clubhouse lead with their two-day total of 12-under 128 at the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club.
Reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion David Lipsky of the United States mounted a strong defence of his title by returning with a 66 to share fifth place with five other players that also included Asian Tour winners Marcus Fraser of Australia and Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg.
Lipsky had returned just in time before thunderstorms brought play to a halt at 1732 (local time). With the rains showing no signs of abating, 36 players will return to complete their rounds at 0730 on Saturday morning. Round three will not commence before 1030.
Yang, who remains Asia’s first Major winner with his historic victory at PGA Championship in 2009, followed up his opening 65 with a flawless round that was highlighted by seven birdies.
The Asian Tour honorary member’s last visit to the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club in 2007 ended with him missing the cut.
But after an eight-year lapse, the Korean has returned as a Major winner on the back of a good form.
“I was really inexperienced back then. The conditions were ideal and my putting was good today, so I’m very happy,” said the 43-year-old.
“I managed to judge the ball distance better as the ball flies 10% further due to the altitude. It’s beautiful, with the mountains and scenery,” added Yang.
Baek also joined his countryman atop the leaderboard in the morning after he kept another clean card with five birdies and an eagle on the par-five 15.
“I’m really happy as I’ve never done well here before. I like this golf course and it’s good I’m beginning to play well here. I feel like my form is slowly returning,” said the Bangkok-based Korean.
Baek is likely to play alongside Yang in the third round and it is going to be an experience he will relish.
“I’m really happy that I can get the opportunity to play with Yang as he’s one of the legends in the game.
‘He’s the only Asian to have won a Major and I’m very excited to play with him as this is also the first time I’m paired with him,” said Baek.
Lipsky overcame a shaky start where he bogeyed two of his opening three holes by responding with a late charge that was highlighted by three successive birdies starting from 14.
“It was pretty rocky at the start but I managed to steady the ship and made some nice birdies coming in.
“You always think you can go really low over here and it’s frustrating when you don’t. But I played pretty solid just to keep myself in contention and I’m looking forward to the weekend,” said Lipsky.
The Omega European Masters is the only event on European soil to be jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour since 2009.