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Covello and Zhang share lead at Louisiana Open

Posted at 7:57 PM, Mar 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-22 20:57:42-04

BROUSSARD, Louisiana (Press Release) – Vince Covello and Xinjun Zhang each finished the second round at 12-under 130 to share the 36-hole lead at the halfway point of the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by MISTRAS. The duo holds a one-shot lead over four players at Le Triomphe Golf & Country Club.

Covello, the first-round leader, followed up a 63 on Thursday with six birdies against two bogeys on Friday for a 4-under 67.

“I’ve been hitting the ball really nicely,” said Covello, a University of North Florida alum. “If you hit greens in regulation around here and you’re putting for birdies, then it makes life easy for you. I haven’t had a whole lot of stressful putts.”

The 36-year-old has done just that, hitting 33 out of 36 greens in regulation to lead the field. Covello birdied two of his last three holes to reach 12-under.

“Yesterday I made a putt on 18 to have the lead and I thought that might be the case again today on nine, so I just rolled it in there,” said Covello. “It’s definitely tough to back up a low number but doing it in the first round, I knew there was still a whole lot of golf to play. You have to keep your head down.”

In 79 career events, Covello has two top-10 finishes including a T3 at the 2017 Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae. This year, he earned a T11 finish in his only made cut of the season at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club.

After making the turn during the first round at even-par, Zhang turned on the jets over the next 27 holes to the tune of 10 birdies and an eagle over 27 holes. The 31-year-old earned a 5-under 66 on Thursday before a 7-under 64 mark on Friday.

“The main thing for me this week has been staying patient out there,” said Zhang. “I didn’t have a very hot start yesterday, made the turn at even-par, but I’ve played really well since. Today I didn’t start great either, missed a couple of opportunities, but I kept a good mental state and let the birdies come.”

In his only previous start at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open, Zhang finished runner-up in 2017 at 18-under 266. Zhang, who had a runner-up finish at the Panamá Championship earlier this year, credited the eagle at the par-5 fifth as jumpstarting his second round.

“I had a really good drive up the left-hand side, somewhere in the 350-yard range, and only had about 220 yards to the pin,” said Zhang. “With a wind a little into me and from the left, it was a perfect 4-iron to about 15 feet and made the putt.”

With the made cut, Zhang has now made five of six cuts this season. Originally from Shanxi, China, Zhang became the first Chinese player to graduate from the Tour to the PGA TOUR in 2017 (along with Marty Dou).

Four players sit one stroke back at T3 entering the weekend: Justin Lower (68-63), Greg Yates (64-67), Ben Kohles (66-65) and Jamie Arnold (68-63). The cut was made at 2-under 140 with 77 professionals making the cut.