Recovering Lu grabs share of Hong Kong lead

Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:09am EDT
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HONG KONG (Reuters) - Taiwan's Lu Wei-chih, who almost quit golf three years ago after being diagnosed with a brain tumor, upstaged a high-quality field to grab a share of the lead at the European Tour's Hong Kong Open on Thursday.

The 36-year-old fired eight birdies on the way to a six-under-par 64 to sit level with Italian Andrea Pavan in the co-sanctioned Asian Tour event.

To be heading a field featuring major winners Justin Rose (65), Graeme McDowell (66) and Padraig Harrington (70) is a fantastic achievement for world number 786 Lu, who endured a slow recovery after having a non-malignant tumour removed in 2012.

"For the first six months after my surgery, I pretty much gave up all my confidence and trust because I felt so weak and I didn’t think I could play golf anymore," Lu, a three-times winner on the Asian Tour, told reporters.

"I could hardly walk through all 18 holes. But about a year later, I started talking to the Asian Tour and they gave me the opportunity to get back on the Tour and play some events.

"Finally, I started coming back mentally and physically."

Englishman Rose fired a bogey-free round at Fanling to keep on the coattails of the lead duo and share third alongside Lu's compatriot CT Pan and Indian Jeev Milkha Singh.

Irishman Kevin Phelan needs a top-six finish to retain his European Tour card for next season and he made a good start with a four-under 66 to sit tied sixth with Northern Irishman McDowell among others.

Englishman Ian Poulter showed no ill-effects of a late long-haul dash to Hong Kong from Florida by firing a three-under 67 for a share of 12th.   Continued...

Lu Wei-chih of Taiwan hits on the ninth fairway during the first round of the World Cup golf tournament in Dongguan November 26, 2009.   REUTERS/Bobby Yip