The 25-year-old leads the way with two shots midway through the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park – the first major tournament of 2020 after the sport has been shut down for months due to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.
One of Li’s sponsors is WeChat – a question that did not go unnoticed by reporters after his 65 second round on Friday in California which ensured he was now the first man in his country to hold the lead after a round of any major tournament.
But the world number 114 took it all in his stride when asked what he thought of this. A quick “I don’t know. Who knows?” took care of this particular issue!
It is rather his golf that he prefers to let speak.
After 36 holes in the Golden State, he’s par eight under, but with a whole group of players breathing down their necks – including formidable American star Brooks Koepka, who is looking to win the event for a third consecutive year.
Not that Li is putting the pressure on himself. In fact, he seems almost as surprised as anyone to lead the way, even admitting that he had no confidence in himself before the tournament after recent poor form and the forced stoppage revealing “I have no expectations in done because you know, the last ones sitting home for months doing nothing. I just wanna be here and have fun. “
It’s not all fun though. Hours of hard work also play their part. Li was clearly not happy to rest on his laurels after completing his second round just after 12 p.m. local time.
While he took a break for lunch and at least some rest, the Chinese star was back on the course for training around five hours after the end of his game, apparently working his irons and to polish her putting until about half past seven – a video that quickly hit social media!
Li – who had a sensational 63 round in the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale – has also earned the respect of his professional colleagues, although there is still room for improvement.
His teammate at last year’s Presidents Cup in Melbourne, Adam Scott, said: “We don’t see that kind of consistency in him and it probably matches his personality a bit. He’s young and that’s the type. golf he plays. He pretty much plays a lot. All the guns are blazing and when it comes off it’s really good. “
Koepka ignores the fear of injury
If Li has his first major title in his sights, Brooks Koepka is eyeing number five. The 30-year-old – for whom the golf majors are his lifeblood – is superbly placed at six below par after his second round of 68 on Friday.
He is one of six players with just two headshots in his quest to become the first man to win the same major tournament three times in a row since Peter Thomson triumphed at the Open from 1954 to 1956.
However, treating a hip pain he needed from his physiotherapist three times over the past nine years could be of concern to the US powerhouse, although Koepka made it clear that the problem was not. not related to previous issues with his left knee.
The American star was quick to downplay any perceived signs of weakness by saying the hip is “fine” adding: “It was a bit tight when I was hitting balls on the field, but there is no what to worry. We will release him. again and it will be much better. “
If Koepka is hiding with intention, the same can’t be said of his compatriot and 15-time major champion Tiger Woods who finds himself on the same level for the tournament after a par 72 to two out.
Woods, who will turn 45 later this year, is aiming for a fifth PGA Championship crown and a record 83rd PGA Tour victory to surpass Sam Snead for the most of all time.
On Thursday, the former world number one started off with his lowest opening round in a major since 2012, but he couldn’t build on that momentum after an extremely frustrating Friday with his putter and he will compete in the Saturday’s third round eight strokes behind Haotong Li.
His renowned trio playing partners Rory McIlroy and new world number one Justin Thomas are also struggling to impress. McIlroy had four birdies in a row to threaten a charge, stopped by a triple bogey on the 12th on his way to a 69-and-under.
Thomas, who won last weekend’s WGC event to claim first place in the standings, succeeded on the weekend on the one-over-par cut line after a 70, the same mark as Phil Mickelson.