COLLEGE GROVE, TENNESSEE – SEPTEMBER 16: Yuxin Lin of China lines up a putt on the third green during the third round of the Simmons Bank Open for the Snedeker Foundation at The Grove on September 16, 2023 in College Grove, Tennessee. (Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images)

Aspiring Chinese golfer Yuxin Lin hopes to eclipse the stars in The American Express in La Quinta, California starting on Thursday as he seeks to maintain his learning curve in the game after joining the professional ranks last year.

The 23-year-old left-hander emerged as one of Asia’s young golfers to watch after winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship twice in 2017 and 2019, which rewarded him with prized starts at the Masters Tournament and Open Championship.

Seeing compatriot Carl Yuan produce an eye-catching tied fourth finish at the Sony Open in Hawaii last weekend has also inspired Lin ahead of this week’s US$8.4 million PGA TOUR tournament which features 21 players in the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking, including World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay (No. 5), Xander Schauffele (No. 6) and 2023 U.S. Open winner Wyndham Clark (No. 10).

The in-form Yuan is also in this week’s stellar field, and will be joined by Korean stars Sungjae Im, Tom Kim and Si Woo Kim, who triumphed in The American Express in 2021, and upcoming Japanese golfers Taiga Semikawa and Ryo Hisatsune.

“The competition is way more competitive out here … everyone here is one of the best in the world, so it’s definitely more challenging. But it’s also a very good opportunity in the same time for me, so I’m just excited to get this week going,” said Lin.

He graduated from University of Florida last summer and gained status on the Korn Ferry Tour where he made nine starts, making four cuts including a best of T15 at the 2023 Compliance Solutions Championship. The American Express, the third tournament of the 2024 FedExCup Season, will be his sixth PGA TOUR start and his first since finishing a commendable T52 at the Shriners Children’s Open in October.

“It’s been more like a learning experience for me being my first season out on tour (last year). It’s a little different than in college and I’m trying to get used to things, and trying to get better along the way. It was a very good experience and I’ve learned a lot,” he said.

“The most important thing is to try to play my game and stick to my game plan, and hopefully play some good golf and the results will take care of itself. I don’t like to set result goals, but more with my game as I want to make sure I’m on the right track and to keep improving.”

Like many other golf fans from China, Lin was rooting hard for Yuan in last week’s Sony Open where the latter fought into contention during the final round before finishing one back of a three-way playoff, won by Grayson Murray. No mainland Chinese player has won on the PGA TOUR and Lin was hoping Yuan would break the run.

“I’ve known Carl for a long time and it’s really fun to watch him on TV and he had a really good chance of winning last week. I was really happy for him and it kind of motivates me even more to come out here and try to play good golf,” said Lin.

The American Express includes 156 professionals and 156 amateurs competing at PGA WEST’s Stadium Course (host course) and Nicklaus Tournament Course, and La Quinta Country Club. No amateurs will be included after the cut (54-hole, low 65 and ties).

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