China`s Liang rockets into PGA contention in record style

Kohler: Liang Wenchong flew China`s flag in sizzling style at the U.S. PGA Championship on Saturday, rocketing into contention with a course-record eight-under-par 64 in the weather-delayed third round.

Liang, who was China`s first Asian Tour champion in 2007, recorded eight birdies on the tough Whistling Straits layout and saved par on his final hole, the ninth, by sinking a 20-footer.

The 32-year-old Zhongshan native broke into a broad smile and pumped his right fist in celebration as the putt dropped to give him a nine-under total of 207, four shots off the lead.

"This is very special, besides even the score, because this is a major," a beaming Liang told reporters, speaking through an interpreter. "It also makes people realise there are actually professional golfers in China, so this is a very special round."

Liang needed only 23 putts at Whistling Straits as he eclipsed the 65 shot by Britain`s Darren Clarke, and later matched by Spaniard Miguel-Angel Jimenez, at the 2004 PGA Championship.

"After I made the cut yesterday, I felt much more relaxed today," said the Chinese, who clinched his first European Tour title at the co-sanctioned Singapore Masters in 2007.

"I teed off on the back nine and played well, so I started building the confidence. My driving, putting and everything was (working) very well so that made the whole round very good."

Liang raced to the turn in five-under 31 and picked up three more shots on his back nine to end a marathon day at Whistling Straits in a four-way tie for fourth.

He paid tribute to his Australian coach Kel Llewellyn, with whom he has completely overhauled his swing over the last three years.

"It`s been a total rebuild from the stance to the grip to the take-away to the down-swing -- everything," said Liang, who took up the game at the age of 16.

"I`m much more relaxed and very comfortable with my swing. And I know how to remain calm, not to let the major pressure get to me. So I was able to perform very, very well today."

Liang will tee off in Sunday`s final round aiming to emulate South Korean Yang Yong-eun, who became Asia`s first male major winner with victory in last year`s PGA Championship at Hazeltine National.

Bureau Report

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