Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Sports / Golf

Yuan hopes it's up, up and Hawaii when Sony Open starts

China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-12 09:44
Share - WeChat
Looking ahead to 2024, China's Carl Yuan Yechun hopes to break into the world's Top 100 and qualify for a second Olympic Games in Paris this summer. GETTY IMAGES

China's Carl Yuan Yechun is fired up ahead of a second crack at the PGA Tour and is determined to transform a stressful rookie campaign into a successful 2024 season, starting with the Sony Open in Hawaii this week.

The 26-year-old Yuan was preparing for Qualifying School last month after he finished an agonizing one point outside the Top 125, failing to retain his Tour card.

However, he was thrown a lifeline following an update to the final FedExCup Playoffs and Eligibility Points List for the 2023 season, which moved him up to 125th position.

"I received a call with the good news which opened the door for me and I'm thankful, even though my season wasn't up to a good level," said Yuan.

"Last season was my first on Tour and I was quite excited, but I felt like I was throwing cold water on myself because I didn't have a very good start at the beginning of 2023. I didn't play to my level and I started to get anxious. I played better in the fall events, but still finished 126th.

"I am fortunate I didn't have to go through Q-school and then I pretty much rested and prepared for the new season with a focus on physical training and technical work with my coach."

Yuan will face the likes of South Korea's Kim Si-woo, who is the defending champion this week, in Hawaii. The stellar field includes last week's The Sentry winner Chris Kirk, world No 8 Matt Fitzpatrick, 2023 Rookie of the Year Eric Cole, 2022 Sony Open champion Hideki Matsuyama and rising star Ludvig Aberg.

Last year, Yuan finished tied at 21st in his debut at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu and he feels confident of delivering a strong start to his 2024 campaign.

"I like this course, and it suits me quite well," said Yuan. "I hope to play well and accomplish some of my smaller goals, where I'm focused on my mental approach. If I can achieve those goals, the results will come naturally."

With the creation of eight Signature Events this season — each of which carries a minimum $20 million prize fund — Yuan knows there is plenty of hard work ahead for him and those outside the Top 50 to earn their spots at the big-money tournaments.

The Aon Next 10 and Aon Swing 5 are new eligibility pathways for players not already qualified via the FedExCup standings. The top five players not otherwise exempt who earn the most points during the Sony Open, The American Express and the Farmers Insurance Open will qualify for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am next month, while the top five players who earn the most FedExCup points during those three events and the WM Phoenix Open, will qualify for The Genesis Invitational.

"I'll try to play in every tournament that I can and hopefully get into these Signature Events, which will have the best fields," he said.

"I gained experience last year and hopefully I can improve, make adjustments and gain more confidence when I compete. I think last year was a good foundation for the future, as I had a few good tournaments where I was a contender. I will learn from those experiences."

Yuan added that making a putting switch and engaging a mental coach were instrumental in his good form last fall, when he finished tied in sixth at the Sanderson Farms Championship and solo fourth at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship.

As for his goal for 2024, he hopes to break into the world's Top 100 and qualify for a second Olympic Games in Paris this summer. He is also looking forward to a maiden appearance at the tour's flagship tournament, The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in March.

"I've been practicing at TPC Sawgrass for three or four years now, and this is one of my most desired tournaments on the PGA Tour.

"I know the course very well, and I'm very lucky to be able to participate close to home this year. It's probably the week I'm looking forward to the most," said Yuan, who lives in Jacksonville, Florida.

"This season, I know I can't be in a hurry because, in golf, you're going to have your ups and downs. I just hope to keep calm mindset.

"I think that attitude will be very important in order to achieve the best results," he said.

Most Popular


What's Hot
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349