China’s Carl Yechun Yuan is confident he will find his footing on the PGA TOUR starting with this week’s Cadence Bank Houston Open following a rough start to life in his rookie campaign.
The 25-year-old from Dalian missed the cut in his opening three tournaments of the 2022-23 Season after earning his TOUR card by finishing second on the Korn Ferry Tour in the recent season where he picked up one victory and eight top-10s.
A two-week break at home has provided him with a timely reset ahead of his campaign at the Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston, Texas, which will feature World No. 2 Scottie Scheffler, Sam Burns, Yuan’s fellow compatriot Marty Zecheng Dou and Asian stars Hideki Matsuyama, Si Woo Kim and Byeong Hun An.
“I was just hanging out at home and working with the coach,” said Yuan. “It’s a pretty relaxing two weeks as I haven’t taken a break for a while. It’s felt like I’ve kept on going this whole year, so it was nice to have some time off.”
He acknowledged the challenges of competing on PGA TOUR golf courses were different to those on the Korn Ferry Tour which has been reflected by his start to the season where he has yet to get on the FedExCup standings.
The early-season stats have shown his iron play and short game have held him back so far, and Yuan has been putting in the hours to get sharper in those areas. “The courses are playing differently than on the Korn Ferry Tour. They’re more punishable off the tee and for missing the greens, so it takes a little time to get used to that. Also playing on a different kind of turf the first few weeks, I didn’t quite adapt to it as well but I’m excited for the rest of the season,” said Yuan, who represented China in the Tokyo Olympic Games last summer.
With the need to quickly learn and tackle new golf courses being key to Yuan’s success, he plans to stick to the tried and tested formula of hitting fairways and greens as he adapts to the new challenges in his burgeoning career.
“It’s the first time playing on this course, and yeah it’s challenging,” said Yuan of Memorial Park. “I think just hitting it straight off the tee and being on the fairway helps and a lot of time, you want to hit the middle of the green. It makes the game a lot easier. The greens here have so much contour, so I think fairway and greens are definitely the key.
“I’ll go out and play the best I can, and it’s more like keeping to the process and goals on how I approach each shot and each round. Definitely, it’s not the best form honestly but I think I’m good enough. I can get around the course by playing smart and putting the ball in the right position. It’s mainly ball striking and the short game to keep my round together,” he added.