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Zhang pumped for return to PGA Tour

China Daily | Updated: 2019-08-13 09:15

NORTH PLAINS, Oregon - With China's Zhang Xinjun having already earned promotion to next year's main PGA Tour, the big question heading into the WinCo Foods Portland Open was whether he would finish No 1 on the Korn Ferry Tour's regular-season points list.

With a tied-43rd finish in Portland on the weekend, Zhang hung on to become the second consecutive player from Asia to finish atop the standings, following South Korea's Im Sung-jae.

Zhang finished 20th in the rankings in 2017 to pick up his PGA Tour membership for the first time, and dramatically improved in his return to the Korn Ferry Tour this season, with two victories and seven top-10 finishes.

Compatriot Dou Zecheng accompanied Zhang to the PGA Tour two years ago, but this time around Zhang is the lone player from China moving on as Dou, Yuan Yechun, Andy Zhang and Yeung Motin fell short of the top-25 threshold.

Zhang took over top spot in the rankings after winning April's Dormie Network Classic in Texas, and held that position for three weeks. He hasn't relinquished No 1 since his victory at the Lincoln Land Championship in Illinois.

The 32-year-old said he's excited to see how he fares in his second PGA Tour season, adding he learned a lot during his rookie campaign.

Most of the courses on the 2019-20 PGA Tour will be familiar to him, and after living in the US for the better part of three years, the 32-year-old said he's made the proper adjustments to net better results.

"Making the jump from the PGA Tour Series-China to the Korn Ferry Tour was much more difficult than going from the Korn Ferry Tour to the PGA Tour," Zhang said. "But I wasn't able to keep my card the first time, so I still have a lot to learn and a lot to prove.

"I think I have a better feel for what life is like on the PGA Tour and what to expect now that I'm going back. I'm really looking forward to returning... and staying there."

On Sunday, Zhang shot a 1-under 70 to finish 8-under overall-14 shots back of winner Bo Hoag but enough to edge Robby Shelton by 174 points in the points chase.

No other PGA Tour Series-China alums advanced, but numerous players retained their Korn Ferry playing privileges and will attempt to earn cards in the upcoming three-tournament finals that feature the 26-through-100 players on the points list and the 75 players who didn't qualify for the PGA Tour's FedExCup Playoffs.

Zhang will play in the final three Korn Ferry events. If he finishes No 1 overall, he will be exempt on the PGA Tour and will receive an invite to the 2020 Players Championship.

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