Montreal leader has Lu Lu of a round

Don Brennan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:49 AM ET

BLAINVILLE, Que. — Chien Soon Lu still laughs when explaining how he finally returned from the lower back problems that kept him out of competitive golf for almost eight years.

“Exercise and drinking wine,” he said, chuckling and with broken English, after his round Saturday at the Montreal Championship.

So naturally he must have enjoyed some of Quebec’s finest vino Friday night, right?

“No,” said Lu. “British beer.”

Okay, so now he might have to change his beverage of choice. Lu tied a course record matched in Round 1 by John Cook and John Huston when he fired a 9-under 63 that gives him the lead going into Sunday’s final 18 holes of the Champions Tour event at Lefontainebleau Golf Club.

At 16-under, he has a one-shot lead on Cook, last year’s runner-up, who followed up his 63 with a 66.

“I’m pretty happy with that,” said Cook. “It’s not easy to come back and play a quality round (after a great one). I’m not complaining with the 6-under. I’m okay with that.”

The posse of contenders behind them includes Huston, who is at 14-under, and Joey Sindelar and Jay Haas, both of whom are at 13-under. Larry Mize, who last year shot a 64 on the final day to win the event, is lurking in the weeds at 10-under.

From 2001-08, Lu sat at home in Taiwan, able to practise, but not walk a course. In February, he told reporters he whiled away the hours by hitting balls. “Every day,” he said. “One thousand shots.”

Lu’s game looks honed quite nicely now, thank you. After starting with a bogey, he parred the next three holes and then strung four birdies in a row en route to a 33 on the way out. Lu had six more coming in for a 30 on the back.

15 birdies

Asked to explain how he pulled it off, the 51-year-old divulged his secret.

“Good drives, iron, putt,” Lu said.

Nothing to it. In two days, Lu has 15 birdies, one eagle and that single bogey. How was his mindset after putting up a five on the par-4 start hole Saturday?

“Just chalk it up as one mistake and keep going,” he said through Jim Chang, his interpreter, caddy and clubmate in Los Angeles. “Because 16- or 17- or 18-under is going to win, so you can’t really worry about it. Just play good.”

Lu has won 32 times on the Asian and Taiwanese tours, but never before in North America. He has done okay for himself, however. As a rookie on the Champions Tour last year, Lu had eight top-10 finishes and finished 16th on the money list, pocketing a cool $930,000.

“He’s world-class, he really is,” said Cook. “Lu does have a great attitude, that’s for sure.”

“My attitude is if I play well or I play bad, just have the same attitude,” said Lu, who has never had the lead going into the final day on the tour. “I’m just happy to be playing golf and enjoying life. I’m having a good time.”

Asked if, on Saturday night, he would also stick with what works or go back to the wine, Lu laughed. “Just a little bit of beer,” he said.


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