Revamped swing helps LiangSHEBOYGAN, Wisconsin - China’s Liang Wen-chong has been working for three years on refining his golf swing, and on Saturday, it finally paid dividends.
The 32-year-old from Zhongshan fired an eight-under par 64 to set a Whistling Straits course record and move to nine-under 207 through three rounds of the 92nd PGA Championship.
Liang is only three shots behind leader Nick Watney, and if he were to win Sunday he would become the first golfer from China to win a major championship.
“This is special not just because of the score but because it is a major,” Liang said. “It also makes people realize that there actually are professional golfers in China.”
Liang rolled in eight birdies and needed just 23 putts in Saturday’s third round. Starting from the 10th tee, he parred his first hole then birdied three of his next four holes. He also had three straight birdies on the front nine beginning at the par-five fifth hole.
“After I made the cut yesterday I felt much more relaxed,” Liang said. “I started my round well from the back nine. So that started to build my confidence. I was driving and putting very well and it made the whole round very good.
“I know how to remain calm and not let the major pressure get to me. So I was able to perform very, very well today.”
A couple years ago, Liang and his hitting coach, Kel Llewllyn, decided to completely revamp his swing.
“It is a total rebuild from the stance to the grip to the down swing, everything,” he said. “My coach has been working with me for the past three years to change my swing. Now I am more relaxed and comfortable with it.”
Liang started playing golf when he was 15 in his hometown of Zhongshan, a sprawling southern Chinese city near Hong Kong. Zhongshan was chosen as the site of the first golf course in China. After the Arnold Palmer-designed course was finished, course officials set up a program for high school students, so Liang decided to join.
He turned pro six years later and in 2007 won his first event on the European Tour by taking the Singapore Masters. Since turning pro, Liang has carried the flag for China in international golf.
“At the beginning there wasn’t a lot of information available, but as I started playing on different tours I saw a whole new level of play and things I could learn,” he said.
In 2008, he shot an opening round 12-under 60 before going on to win the Indian Open. Liang made his major championship debut at the PGA Championship in 2007 at Southern Hills. He missed the cut there and also at the Masters in 2008.
But he made history later in 2008 at the British Open by playing all four rounds and finishing in a tie for 64th at Royal Birkdale. Liang said his preparation was very good heading into this year’s PGA Championship.
“I have previous major experience so I know how to adjust to the jet lag,” he said. “I did nine holes of practice Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday just basically practicing and relaxing instead of putting too much pressure on myself. I found my rhythm.”
Liang Wen-chong of China lines up his putt on the eighth hole during the 92nd PGA Golf Championship Sunday. [REUTERS/YONHAP]