China’s Sampson Yunhe Zheng will take the plunge into the professional ranks on PGA TOUR Americas this week with a clear mission and dream to play his way onto the PGA TOUR and winning the famous green jacket at the Masters Tournament.

The 22-year-old Zheng recently graduated from University of California, Berkeley and finished a creditable 14th on PGA TOUR University, a program designed to identify the best college golfers in the United States, providing them with a career pathway via the Tours operated under the PGA TOUR umbrella.

“I plan to turn professional at my first event on PGA TOUR Americas,” said Zheng, who is in the field at The Beachlands Victoria Open presented by Times Colonist which starts at Uplands Golf Club in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on Thursday.

“My golf dream is to win the Masters. When I was 15 years old. I received a questionnaire for junior golfers including one about the dream. I filled in “Winning the Masters”, and since then, it has never changed. The PGA TOUR has always been my objective, my long time desire. I’ve watched watch the PGA TOUR all the time from a young age.”

Over the past two years, Zheng has emerged as one of the leading players in collegiate golf, winning once and posting 12 other top-10s while representing UC Berkeley in the U.S. He also finished runner-up at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Royal Melbourne last October, closely denying him of the opportunity to qualify for the Masters.

As a kid, he learned to play golf while growing up in Japan where his family resided for several years and subsequently made his way onto U.S. soil to advance his sporting ambition. He then earned a place at UC Berkeley where he graduated with an economics degree.

“I’m getting ready to start my career on PGA TOUR Americas. I feel ready in some areas and needing to learn in other parts. Compared with PGA TOUR players, my technical and mental strengths are not to my advantage yet, but I think I always have a clear goal when it comes to course strategy,” said Zheng, who idolizes the likes of Tiger Woods, Max Homa and Collin Morikawa.

He believes the formative years spent sharpening his golf skills and competing alongside the best collegiate golfers have prepared him for his next phase of life as a professional golfer. Currently, Carl Yechun Yuan is the lone mainland Chinese golfer who holds a PGA TOUR card, with Marty Zecheng Dou having limited status.

“When I played American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) events, I have one lasting memory of an event in Lake Mary, Florida where I wasn’t qualified for that event, but someone withdrew and I got in and finished third that really propelled my career. In the AJGA two month after, I played poorly in my practice round and I wasn’t very confident, but I shot 65 the first day and ended up winning the event. From then on, many doors opened for me. I think playing AJGA really helped with my mental strength,” said Zheng, whose parents hail from Tianjin.

“When I was at UC Berkeley, the golf courses that my college team played on were always challenging ones. But it helped me as those courses are somewhat similar to PGA TOUR courses. Playing golf in college really helped improve my time management too and I always remember my coach saying this– ‘You’ll never be good if everything is handed to you.’ I think we endure difficulties and challenges to reach a higher level, and to be a better self.”

Zheng tried swimming and playing table tennis when he was young but got hooked to golf. He hopes his decision to pursue the game as a profession will help him emulate the likes of Yuan and Dou by qualifying for the PGA TOUR, and subsequently becoming the first mainland Chinese winner on TOUR.

“I started playing golf in Japan when I was nine years old. While it’s hard, golf is a good choice. It challenges you for sure. I joined a summer camp in the U.S. when I was 10, and I liked it. I then told my mom that I wanted to take golf as my sport or even as my future career, and I wanted to go to America. The next year, I came to the U.S.”

The Beachlands Victoria Open presented by Times Colonist, the first tournament of the North America Swing, and the seventh event in the inaugural season of PGA TOUR Americas. The 10-event North America Swing, comprised of nine events in Canada and one in the United States, opens this week, June 20-23, at Uplands Golf Club in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The season-long race for the Fortinet Cup will continue as the top 10 players will earn 2025 Korn Ferry Tour membership at the end of the season.

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