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Marty aiming to emulate phenom Kim's success

Updated: 2022-10-27 08:47
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Marty Dou Zecheng tracks a shot during the Sanderson Farms Championship on Sept 30 in Jackson, Mississippi. GETTY IMAGES

China's Marty Dou Zecheng believes Tom Kim's meteoric rise in recent months will spur young Asian golfers like himself to shoot for the stars and push their limits to succeed on the PGA Tour.

The exploits of the 20-year-old South Korean phenom have provided Dou with plenty of inspiration as the Chinese putter looks to establish himself in golf's top echelon.

Dou, 25, will play at this week's Butterfield Bermuda Championship and is feeling confident of finishing on the right side of the leaderboard on the holiday isle.

Since August, Kim has won twice on the PGA Tour and was also a standout performer at the Presidents Cup where he produced magical moments with a number of clutch shots.

Dou is among the South Korean's growing number of fans.

"Tom is only 20 years old and what he has achieved is something I could not even imagine when I was 20," said Dou, whose first stint on the PGA Tour was in 2018 when he was 21.

"He is a good example for junior golfers. His wins and his confidence make him so competitive. For me, it means there is pressure as there are many great young players on the tour now."

Dou was 19 when he became No 1 on the PGA Tour Series-China in 2016 following four domestic victories which earned him playing rights on the Korn Ferry Tour (KFT). He won the first of his three career KFT titles the following year which made him the first Chinese mainland golfer then to earn a PGA Tour card.

However, his debut season playing alongside golf's biggest names on the PGA Tour in 2018 proved to be a baptism of fire as he missed 17 cuts from 23 starts. He subsequently returned to the Korn Ferry Tour, picking up two more victories and, in his own words, becoming a better version of his 2018 self.

Following a two-week break, the 25-year-old feels recharged and ready for a strong showing at the par-71 Port Royal Golf Club. He took time off to fine-tune his game with coach Cameron McCormick, who coincidently Kim has recently worked with too.

"I rested for a few days during the break and then met my coach. I didn't feel too good about my swing, so we made some small adjustments. Now, I feel my swing is better. I focused on the short game and putting. I am in good condition this week," he said.

The ambitious Chinese said the idyllic setting in Bermuda reminded him of his success on the Korn Ferry Tour when he triumphed at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic in 2019.

"It is my first time playing on this golf course. I think it is quite similar to the Bahamas … we're on an island, it's windy and the golf course is not overly long. If the weather is not good, we will face some challenges. The low ball flight here will be an advantage, and of course good putting will count a lot," said Dou.

He started his 2022-23 campaign with mixed results, finishing tied-21st in the season-opening Fortinet Championship last month before coming in tied-54th in the Sanderson Farms Championship and missing the cut at the Shriners Children's Open. He was not eligible for the Zozo Championship and The CJ Cup, both limited field events, over the past two weeks which gave him the opportunity to tighten up his game with McCormick.

"I think it was pretty much normal performances over my first three events, and I had higher expectations," said Dou, who is one of two Chinese mainland players to hold PGA Tour cards for this season.

He has set himself a goal of becoming China's first PGA Tour winner.

"It's the same goal all year. I want to win an event and I'll be trying my best," he said. "I'll be chasing my goals over the following four weeks before going home to China for the year-end break. I want to be in the top three or become a champion."

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