China’s Haotong Li, the surprise 36-hole leader at the PGA Championship, is largely an unknown to American golf fans. But for those watching ESPN’s coverage of the tournament on Friday afternoon/evening, the 25-year-old European Tour member started to develop the reputation as one of the game’s ultimate grinders.
Li finished off his five-under 65 on Friday at 12:08 p.m. PDT, his eight-under total for 36 holes giving him the clubhouse lead that held up for the rest of the day. Yet there were ESPN cameras, spotting him at TPC Harding Park hard at work on his game well into the late afternoon.
He was seen on the range:
And on the putting green:
And over working on chip shots:
At each spot, Li looked like the only guy left practicing at all. And remember, he had teed off at 7:11 a.m., meaning he likely arrived at the course at around 6 a.m. Meaning he’d logged in one serious day of work.
Just when you thought that Li had spent nearly 12 straight hours at the golf course, David Duval slipped into the commentary that he had learned something to dim slightly the legend of Haotong. After his round Li had actually gone back to the place he was staying, eaten and taken a nap … then returned to Harding Park to get in a little extra work.
Even so, Li’s return and subsequent 90-plus minutes of practice received plenty of airtime and lots of commentary on social media:
Jason Day, having played in the afternoon and then talked to ESPN after his round, said he saw Li on the practice green before he teed off a 1 p.m. That he was then there still practicing when Day was finished playing around 6 p.m. caused the Aussie to contemplate the same thought that many were having: It’s time to go home.