China’s Carl Yuan is determined to put his head down and keep grinding as he seeks a glimmer of light at the end of a long tunnel ahead of this week’s RBC Canadian Open.
Yuan’s debut season on the PGA TOUR has been a rough ride with a number of missed cuts but the 26-year-old is hopeful he can turn the tide as the 2022-23 Season approaches its final three months.
In 16 starts so far, the Chinese golfer, who earned promotion to the PGA TOUR following a successful campaign on the Korn Ferry Tour last year, has made the cut on only five occasions, with a best of T21 at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January.
He intends to stick to the proverbial “one shot at a time” routine at Oakdale Golf and Country Club in Toronto this week as he seeks better results ahead.
“I don’t have any big expectations this week,” said Yuan.
“The main thing is to keep my mind in a good state, play it one shot at a time and play each shot with a more positive mindset. Don’t worry too much about your results, it’s more important to focus on your process.”
It has been tough for Yuan to stick to his routine despite starting the year with a solid finish in Hawaii. His game has not quite clicked as was the case last season where he won once on the Korn Ferry Tour, and enjoyed eight other top-10s.
Competing on a new golf course every week in his first year out on the PGA TOUR has proven to be a steep learning curve as well.
“There are some challenges and pressures which are normal because the golf courses on the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour are different,” said Yuan. “I’ve made some adjustments to my golf swing, and although I haven’t gotten great results yet, I feel I’m making progress in the right direction.”
This week’s venue will pose a stern test as reigning FedEdxCup champion Rory McIlroy seeks a third consecutive victory at the RBC Canadian Open. Other top names in this week’s field include Canadian home heroes, Adam Hadwin, Corey Conners and Mike Weir, the 2024 Presidents Cup International Team captain.
“The front nine and back nine are quite different. The greens on the back nine are easier and the slopes are not as severe. The tee shot is very important here and finding the fairway will give you a chance to attack the flagsticks. The rough is up, so if you don’t hit the fairway, it’s not easy to deal with the long grass,” said Yuan, who is currently ranked 187th on the FedExCup points list.
Yuan hopes to emulate close friend, Marty Zecheng Dou in rediscovering his best form as Dou finished tied fifth in last month’s AT&T Byron Nelson which was his career first top-10 on the PGA TOUR. It pushed Dou up to 124th position on the FedExCup ranking which gives him a fighting chance to retain his card for the new season.
Dou is also looking forward to this week’s test at Oakdale. “This is an old-styled golf course, narrow fairways, high rough and many elevated greens. How you drive the ball will define how difficult the course will play. It’s going to be challenging,” said Dou, who spent his childhood years in Vancouver where he learned to play golf.
“I hope to play my best again and earn some FedExCup points to make myself more comfortable on the points list. I’ve been playing some good golf recently.”
Other Asian stars chasing for a win include Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan, Korean rookie S.H. Kim and Sung Kang.