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His caddie, Ibrahim Gaus, figures if that pressure was going to get to Liang, it would have happened Saturday as he closed in on the course record.

“He knew,” Gaus said. “He knows exactly what to do with the ball. It was no problem for him.”

Liang was a bit more sanguine about his chances Sunday, but he already knows enough about dealing with the media that he vowed to “take it one shot at a time.”

“I was nervous yesterday on 18, when I was worried about just making the cut. Since then,” he smiled, “I have no negative thoughts.”

The one thing Liang has thought long and hard about is what a major win might mean for golf back in China.

“I think people there would be very surprised and very happy, because there have not been many opportunities for Chinese golfers in the majors,’ he said.

But much like Yao Ming and Yi moving to the NBA raised basketball’s profile back home, Liang is certain a win come Sunday would make him something of a pioneer. And so, when someone asked whether he knew Yi, Liang smiled devilishly and replied, “Maybe the question will be asked whether Yi Jianlian knows me.”

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Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)ap.org