August 2, China : Chinese golfer Dou Zecheng reacts during the final round of the Digital Ally Open on Sunday at Lions Gate in Kansas. Photo: Courtesy of PGA Tour
Rising talent Dou Zecheng became the first player from the Chinese mainland to secure a US PGA Tour card on Sunday by winning the Digital Ally Open on the Web.com Tour.
Dou’s victory, the first for a Chinese mainlander on the developmental circuit, continues the 20-year-old’s impressive rise after he bagged four titles in the PGA Tour China Series last year to top the Order of Merit and earn his Web.com card.
“I was talking to my team and I didn’t know if I needed to keep practicing or get more experience on the Web.com Tour instead of trying to get to the PGA Tour so fast,” the bespectacled Dou said in a video interview posted on the PGA Tour’s website after winning the Kansas event by three strokes.
“I never thought I could win this year.
“I hope [my win] will bring more young players from China to come out and play golf … and give them more confidence when they come out here and play.”
With rain washing out the first day’s play on Thursday, the last two rounds were held back-to-back on a marathon Sunday and Dou made his charge early at the Nicklaus Golf Club at Lions Gate.
He flirted with a course record during a third round of 61 before coolly closing out the win with a 66, finishing with a 25-under total of 259, three ahead of second-placed Americans Kyle Thompson, Luke Guthrie and Billy Kennerly.
Born in Central China’s Henan Province but raised in Vancouver for part of his childhood, Dou turned professional at 17, electing to forgo university and return to his homeland to hone his career.
Dou also banked a check of $117,000 with the win.
“It’s a big honor to represent China and come play in the United States,” said Dou, who speaks excellent English.
Dou and fellow Chinese Zhang Xinjun have been traveling together this season and trying and earn their tour card.
“It’s going to be pretty big,” added Dou after the career-changing victory.
“We’ve been talking to the Chinese media this year about a Chinese player potentially getting to the PGA Tour, how soon will they get their card.
“And I just did it here. It just happened.”
Dou’s victory completed a historic month for Chinese golf after Li Haotong, 21, won acclaim at the British Open a week ago when he closed with a 63 at Royal Birkdale to finish third – the best result by a Chinese at the men’s majors.