China’s Dou Zecheng enjoyed a weekend birdie binge to secure his third top-10 finish in his last four Korn Ferry Tour starts at the Wichita Open in Kansas.
The 23-year-old sank eight birdies against three dropped shots for a closing 65 and a 13-under-par 267 total on Sunday to end tied-fifth, three shots behind winner Jared Wolfe. Dou carded the most birdies at the event with a tally of 25.
The impressive run sees Dou, a two-time winner on the PGA’s second-tier Korn Ferry Tour, move up from 46th to 35th position on the circuit’s regular-season points list, with two events remaining in 2020.
On the PGA Tour, Dou’s countryman Zhang Xinjun, who started the final round in fourth place at the Corales Puntacana Resort &Club Championship in the Dominican Republic, had to settle for a share of 11th after a disappointing closing 74 in windy conditions.
It was Zhang’s second top-15 finish of the season after coming in tied-14th at the Safeway Open two weeks ago.
He dropped three bogeys and one double bogey against a lone birdie in his opening 11 holes before salvaging his card with gains on holes 12 and 14.
Despite hitting 13 fairways, Zhang’s iron play let him down in challenging conditions as he missed seven greens in regulation to drop out of contention in his bid for a first PGA Tour victory.
In contrast, Dou birdied five of his opening seven holes before trading three more birdies against as many bogeys in his remaining 12 holes to finish strongly. He began the week with a 63 for a share of the first-round lead.
“I’ve just been playing really good. I was kind of tired last week as I had played six events in a row and it was a good week where I took six days off, and then I saw my coach (Cameron McCormick) on Sunday before coming out,” said Dou.
“I got everything back from my previous weeks, and started to hit it real good, putted it good as well. And my course management has been a lot better. In the first round, I played nicely and my ball flight has been good, and high.
“It got a bit windy over the last few days and it was hard to control the ball and the scoring wasn’t that low but I still played decent. Also, I ranked first in most birdies, so I’m feeling confident there.”
Dou’s best result so far during an abbreviated season caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has left him confident he can challenge for a third career victory on the Korn Ferry Tour in the final two events of the year.
“I’m definitely looking for a win before the year ends,” said Dou. “I’m just playing really solid and I feel like the winning feeling is coming back. But you never know what’s going to happen as winning always needs something special. You need some luck, momentum and skill all happening together to get a win here.”
The young Chinese, who was the PGA Tour Series-China No 1 in 2016, played on the PGA Tour for one season in 2018 before losing his card. He missed out on a quick return at the end of the 2019 Korn Ferry Tour season where he won once.
With the circuit’s decision to not have a graduating class in 2020, the 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour schedule will now bridge two seasons and conclude with 25 PGA Tour cards awarded at the 2021 Portland Open, with an additional 25 cards awarded at the conclusion of the 2021 Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
PGA Tour contributed to this story