Canada’s Justin Shin fired a second-round 62 on Friday to open up a five-stroke lead at the Macao Championship, the final event of this year’s PGA Tour Series-China.
Shin, who had opened with a 63, carded eight birdies, one eagle and a bogey on Friday at Caesars for a 17-under total as he looks to win his first tour title since triumphing at the 2015 Wuhan Open.
American Charlie Netzel shot a 63 to lie in second spot at 12-under, two strokes ahead of Canadian Richard Jung (67) and France’s Cyril Bouniol (66), who is hoping to retain his fifth spot on the order of merit.
The top five money-list finishers will earn memberships for next year’s Korn Ferry Tour – the gateway to the PGA Tour proper.
Order-of-merit leader Max McGreevy is in a tie for eighth after back-to-back 67s. The American is on the verge of locking up full Korn Ferry Tour status for 2020 after Trevor Sluman, who is second on the order of merit, missed the cut.
McGreevy is virtually assured of earning player-of-the-year honors as it would take a variety of unlikely scenarios over the weekend for either Luke Kwon or David Kocher to overtake him.
South Korea-born Shin has struggled with his game all season and lies 67th on the money list after playing in eight events. However, a putter change last month followed by a pair of strong finishes on the Korean Tour appears to have restored his confidence.
The naturalized Canadian, who teed off on hole 10, said the highlight of his second round was his eagle on the par-4 11th.
“I made a nice eagle on hole 11. It was a little down-breeze and I was 134 yards out so I hit a little 52 and it was actually going pretty far and I was worried it might go over the green,” said Shin. “But it two-hop rolled in and I got the yardage just right so that was probably the best part of the day.”
After four straight pars, Shin bounced back from a bogey on 16 with a birdie on 17. He then turned up the heat on the back nine to card six birdies – closing with three in a row.
“That par-3 where I made bogey, I was a little off because I three-putted a one-and-a-half-footer,” said Shin. “Luckily I got back right away and made birdie on 17 and that helped me keep it going and have a great finish.”
Despite his big lead, Shin has vowed to play too cautiously on Saturday as he knows how quickly a lead can evaporate.
“I’ve been in this position before. Two years ago, when Alex Kang won (the Cadillac Championship in Chengdu), I was 18-under after the second round and he shot a 10-under and then a 5-under to finish at 29-under to beat me,” said Shin.
“So I just want to be like that and try to finish 26 or 27-under. That’s my goal for this weekend but it all depends.”
Netzel, who is 23rd on the order of merit, is projected to jump into 10th if the same scenario holds until Sunday. However, the tall lefty isn’t getting ahead of himself and is playing with a care-free mentality this week.