Chinese duo Carl Yuan and Marty Zecheng Dou fired matching 6-under 66s on Friday to move into title contention at the Sanderson Farms Championship and maintained their fight for PGA TOUR survival.
The 26-year-old Yuan, featuring in his rookie season on the PGA TOUR, reaped the rewards of adjusting the set-up of his driver as he hit 12 of 14 fairways at The Country Club in Jackson, Mississippi which yielded seven birdies against a lone bogey. He ended the second round in tied second place, two strokes back of leader Ben Griffin who carded a stellar 63 to lead on 14-under.
Dou also made seven birdies, thanks largely to some fine ball-striking where he ranked second in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green to end the day on 11-under in a share of sixth place. C.T. Pan of Chinese Taipei shot a 69 for T27 heading into the weekend where he is also battling to keep his TOUR card.
“Yeah, for sure I played very solid today again,” said Yuan, who ranked fourth in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee. “Drove the ball a lot better. Had a little setting change on the driver and stayed patient out there all day and very committed. I was happy with how I played for sure,”
He entered the second of seven events in the reimagined FedExCup Fall ranked 151st after missing 15 cuts in the Regular Season and posting three top-25s. The top 125 will keep their PGA TOUR cards for 2024.
Yuan’s putter was also on target where he converted putts inside of 15 feet on five occasions and made a 25-footer on the eighth hole. His only blemish came on the 18th after his ball found mud on the fairway. “I was just losing it (driver) to the right yesterday, and got the setting a little more upright so I can swing more freely. I think it definitely helps, really trust my swing coming into the shot,” said Yuan.
“I kind of just kept my head down, trying to go one hole, one shot at a time, just picking really smart targets and swinging aggressively. It turned out good. I know I have the game, and I’ve just got to stay patient and have fun out there. I had a mud ball directly behind the ball (on 18), so I didn’t have a clue where it was going to end up. It was a little unfortunate. Still excited to play on the weekend.”
Dou, 26, currently sits on the bubble in 125th position in his fight for TOUR survival. He was delighted with his relatively stress-free round where he missed only two greens in regulation. “Very solid. I’ve been hitting the drives really, really good out here. Putting was pretty good. These greens are super fast. I think it’s one of the fastest throughout the year, and I’ve been able to adjust to the speed really well,” said Dou, who has one top-10 and three top-25s this season.
“You know, I’m on the line, on the bubble and just trying to play good every day and not think too much about where I’m at and how much point I’m going to make and stuff. Just keep playing like the first few days, and I’ll be good.”
Second-Round Notes – Friday, October 6, 2023
Weather: Mostly cloudy with morning showers. High of 84. Wind N 10-15 mph, with gusts to 20 mph.
36-hole cut: 78 professionals at 5-under 139 from a field of 144 professionals; ties lowest cut in tournament history (2021) and marks second-lowest cut in an individual stroke-play event this season (-6/2022 Butterfield Bermuda Championship)
|1||Ben Griffin||67-63—130 (-14)|
|T2||Harrison Endycott||67-65—132 (-12)|
|T2||Luke List||66-66—132 (-12)|
|T2||Carl Yuan||66-66—132 (-12)|
|T2||Henrik Norlander||65-67—132 (-12)|