China’s rising star Carl Yuan is thrilled he will compete in his first Olympic Games men’s golf competition in Tokyo next month even if it means putting his PGA TOUR aspirations on hold.
The 24-year-old Yuan will be joined by compatriot Ashun Wu at the Kasumigaseki Country Club from July 29 to August 1 after the list of 60 men’s qualifiers was published by the International Golf Federation on Tuesday.
“It means a lot for me to represent my country in the Olympics,” said a delighted Yuan.
“It has always been one of my goals to be an Olympian and I am glad it came true. Watching the national flag being raised and singing the national anthem means everything to an athlete, and I have been touched when I watched that moment on TV.”
While it is a dream come true for Yuan, he will need to put his chase for a PGA TOUR card on hold for the next one month. He is presently ranked 27th on the Korn Ferry Tour points list, with the Top-25 at the end of the Regular Season in August graduating onto the PGA TOUR. Another 25 PGA TOUR cards will be available in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, comprising of three tournaments.
Yuan is flying back to China this week to join centralised training in Nanshan and needs to observe mandatory quarantine. With his participation in Tokyo, it means he will miss four Korn Ferry Tour tournaments at a crucial time of the season.
However, he believes that his desire to represent his country will be rewarded on two fronts.
“It is not easy to give up some Korn Ferry Tour events while I am on the verge of getting a PGA TOUR. However, it is a huge honour and also my responsibility to represent my country. I believe I made the right choice. I have faith to play well in Tokyo and then finish strong in the remainder of the Korn Ferry Tour Season. It will all be worth it in the end ,” said Yuan.
“I will be in quarantine at the China national golf training facility, and I’m going to try and get some workout done in the room at least. Then, I will work on a game plan to play the golf course in Tokyo since I have played there two years ago.”
This year, Yuan has established himself as the leading mainland Chinese golfer on the Official World Golf Ranking following a slew of outstanding performances on the Korn Ferry Tour’s 2020-21 wraparound season. He has enjoyed three runner-up finishes and four other top-20s.
Yuan hopes he can carry his good form to Tokyo.
“For sure there is some pressure, but that motivates me even more. I know I have the full support from my country and people, and that will drive me to play the best that I can. My goal is to get a medal for China,” said Yuan, who qualified as the 57th ranked golfer in the list of qualifiers.
“I played at Kasumigaseki in 2019 and I had a very good impression of that golf course. I like the design although it is a challenging layout. After the Olympics, I will head back to the U.S. to play in the last two Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season events. I still have the opportunity to gain my PGA TOUR card. I will do my best.”
The 36-year-old Wu, who is a three-time European Tour winner and two-time winner in Japan, will feature in his second Olympic Games after finishing tied 30th in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. He is looking forward to another crack at winning a medal in Tokyo.
“I am very excited. I have played regularly in tournaments and conquered many challenges. It is good that my efforts have not been in vain. I am thrilled to see my name on the list of 60 players at the very last moment,” said Wu, who qualified as the 59th ranked golfer.
“Now that I’m back in China, I will take some time to recover, adjust and prepare for the Olympics. I have set plans to prepare myself and I hope I will be in good shape for the Olympics. My goal will be to see China’s flag being raised at the golf course with the national anthem being played.”