Jeffrey Kang from the United States leads the PGA Tour Series-China order of merit ahead of this week's Haikou Championship in Haikou, Hainan province. [Photo/VCG]
Jeffrey Kang narrowly leads fellow American Charlie Saxon in the PGA Tour Series-China order of merit standings as the circuit swings into Hainan Island for this week's Haikou Championship at Sunac Haikou 3KM Golf.
Kang earned his card for this season by winning International Qualifying Tournament No 1 in Haikou in February and then claimed the season-opening Chengdu Championship in Sichuan province in March to win 270,000 yuan ($42,400).
China's Cao Yi also won 270,000 yuan after beating England's William Harrold in a playoff at the following week's Chengdu Championship - where Kang missed the cut - to move to the top of the money list with 277,050 yuan. Harrold was just behind Cao with 274,000 yuan, having shared second place in Chengdu.
Saxon won last week's Changsha Championship to move his earnings after three events to 290,335 yuan.
Kang birdied three of his last four holes in Changsha to secure sixth place and reclaim top spot in the order of merit with 320,250 yuan, ahead of Saxon, Harrold and Cao.
All three of this year's champions - Kang, Cao and Saxon - are in the field at the Haikou Championship, while other former Tour winners include China's Zhang Huilin, Chao Haimeng and He Zeyu, Australians James Marchesani and Bryden Mac-Pherson, Kim Tae-woo of South Korea and Canada's Justin Shin.
Saxon and Kim, second and fourth respectively in the 2016 order of merit, 2015 winner Macpherson and Baek, who was fifth in 2014, have all played on the Web.com Tour after finishing in the top five on the money list.
Meanwhile, England's Fredrik Edmunds shot a 3-under 69 to win the Monday qualifier and join the 144-player field along with compatriot Matthew Webb (74), second-place Riito Mieno (72) of Japan, Koreans Lee Jun-hyuk (74), Jung Min-su (75) and Kim Ji-won (77), Chinese trio Wang Yucong (75), Hu Zhizheng (75) and amateur Song Weilun (76) and American James Back (78).
Every tournament on this year's PGA Tour Series-China offers 1.5 million yuan ($240,000), a 25 percent increase over purse levels from 2016.
The PGA Tour established PGA Tour Series-China in 2014 as its third international developmental tour, following in the footsteps of PGA Tour Latinoamerica and the Mackenzie Tour - PGA Tour Canada.
Since its inception, PGA Tour Series-China players have received Official World Golf Ranking points for top finishes at official tournaments.