TIANJIN, China -- The youngest player to compete on the European Tour missed the cut in the Volvo China Open on Friday, while Mikko Ilonen of Finland tied the course record with a 9-under 63 to take a three-shot lead.
The 12-year-old amateur Ye Wo-cheng missed the cut at 14 over after a pair of 79s.
VOLVO CHINA OPEN
But China's Dou Ze-cheng became the youngest, at 16, to make the tournament cut with a 70-72 for a 2-under total.
''I am happy with my scores, and feel excited to make the cut, so I will enjoy my game through the weekend,'' said Dou, who will try to qualify for the U.S. Open. ''I am not thinking too much about my score, just try my best, and get some more experience.''
Ilonen birdied four of his last five holes to finish at 12 under and move ahead of Australia's Brett Rumford and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who had 67s.
Ilonen matched the Binhai Lake course record set last year by Sweden's Alexander Noren. He also equaled his lowest round at the 2009 Madrid Masters.
Six years on from his two European Tour victories but having already finished ninth in Qatar and second in Morocco this season, Ilonen carded nine birdies – an approach to three feet at the fifth among the highlights.
“I hit the ball better than yesterday,” said Ilonen. “I gave myself a few more chances on the greens, especially on the back nine, and managed to take quite a few of them, so it was a very stress-free round today. I didn’t put myself in any trouble at all, which is always nice, and it’s nice to be three ahead going into the weekend.
“I’ve had a couple of other 63s on the tour before, but it’s difficult to compare. For example, I may have played better and only shot a 69,” he explained. “I’ve probably struck the ball better this year, but I don’t think I’ve putted better. It’s a good number of birdies definitely – I felt really good with my putter."
Rumford had a six-year gap between his third European Tour title and his victory last Sunday, where he eagled the first playoff hole to win the Ballantine’s Championship in South Korea. He carded seven birdies, including a fine iron to six feet at the second, and two bogeys in his 67.
“This is a new week and another tournament,” said Rumford, who birdied his last four holes. “I feel good, my fitness is good and my energy levels feel nice and high, so hopefully I can ride the wave over the weekend and keep the good feelings going.
“It’s a nice feeling when you’re holing putts and seeing your name up near the top of the leaderboard. You’ve got to make the most of these moments when they come along, and I’m managing to do that at the minute.”
Aphibarnrat turned in 33 then holed birdie putts from eight feet at the 11th and five feet at the 15th to post a 67.
“My driver has done very well for the first two days,” he said. “When you have the chance to hit it long and get on the greens [in regulation] then you have a good chance to do well. I think I made 17 greens today.
“I plan to play as much as I can in Europe this year,” he added. “Winning in Malaysia gave me a lot of confidence, and I hope to keep that as I carry on this year. I will always try to do my best.”
Overnight leader Robert-Jan Derksen was a shot further back in fourth after a 70, with Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal and England’s Lee Slattery sharing fifth on 7 under.
Defending champion Branden Grace produced a fine comeback to keep his hopes alive. The South African was 5 over par with five holes to play in his opening round, but birdied three of them, then came home in a brilliant 30 today, which saw him sign for a 67 and 3 under halfway total.