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Dou eyes return to PGA Tour

China Daily | Updated: 2022-01-17 09:29
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China's Marty Dou Zecheng is looking at the bigger picture as the new Korn Ferry Tour season tees off on Sunday with The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

"Now, the goal is to promote golf in China. This makes me feel that the past few years, playing golf means something bigger," said Dou.

The young and talented Chinese will be joined by compatriots Zhang Xinjun and Carl Yuan Yechun in the Bahamas as the trio carry the nation's charge on the Korn Ferry Tour this year. They hope their ultimate destination is the PGA Tour, where Zhang and Dou have both enjoyed brief stints. Fifty PGA Tour cards will be up for grabs on the Korn Ferry Tour.

Chasing the American dream has meant making sacrifices and being some 11,000 kilometers away from home. As he is based in Dallas, Texas, the world of professional golf can sometimes be a lonely affair for Dou. However the 24-year-old, who is a two-time winner on the Korn Ferry Tour and a former champion in the Bahamas, is determined he can earn his rewards once more.

"During the previous New Year holiday, I went to a hot pot place for dinner on my own and there were families out to celebrate. The waitress asked why I was alone and at that moment, I thought to myself I'm here to achieve a goal. Without a goal, I wouldn't want to be here and I would live in China," said Dou.

"Everything we do here is because of golf. We're competing on tour, trying to make a living, and all these factors weigh on our minds. The added stress means we are starting further back than the others. That's why having friends (like Yuan and Zhang) is important as they give me a different perspective on things and teach me a lot."

Dou grew up as a phenom in the game, winning four times on PGA Tour China Series in 2016 while still in his teens en route to lifting the order of merit title.

He went on to become the first Chinese mainland player to win on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2017 which earned him a PGA Tour card for the following season. His dream was short-lived as he struggled to find his footing against the stars of the game.

"Those early years went very smoothly," said Dou. "The year I got onto the PGA Tour, the rollercoaster began. For all kinds of reasons, I wasn't ready to be on tour. I didn't play well and lost my card. I had to go back to the Korn Ferry Tour to start over."

Working with renowned swing guru Cameron McCormick has been beneficial and the biggest takeaway has been the realization he needs to look forward in the game to improve.

"There's something I have been thinking a lot about … My game and skills have improved so much, but why can't I play explosively like when I was younger?" Dou said.

"I used to compare my swing to those times when I played really well, to try and regain that feeling. Then I figured you just can't solve problems this way. You want to go back to the old days but you are not that person anymore, physically or mentally.

"Since I came over to the US, the most helpful person has been my coach. He's the first person I turn to for help for anything related to golf. He's worked with world-class players and he inspires me in problem-solving."

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