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McGreevy moving into exalted company

China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-10 09:25
Max McGreevy tees off during a practice round for this week's Macao Championship. CHINA DAILY

Max McGreevy hopes this week's Macao Championship is the last time he tees up at a PGA Tour Series-China tournament.

That's no disrespect to the tour, but as the No 1 player on its money list, McGreevy is assured a top-five finish that earns membership for the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour-the gateway to the American's ultimate destination, the PGA Tour proper.

McGreevy is well acquainted with the Korn Ferry circuit, playing 16 tournaments in 2018. His debut season didn't go to plan, however. He made only seven cuts, finished 161st on the money list and managed just one top-40 finish.

That's how the 24-year-old ended up in China, which, as his 965,123 yuan ($135,100) in earnings attests, has proved an astute move.

Should McGreevy finish the season in top spot on the order of merit, he will be crowned player of the year and be fully exempt on next year's Korn Ferry Tour, meaning he can play in any tournament he chooses.

Before either of those things happen, however, McGreevy has to maintain his 177,259 yuan lead over Trevor Sluman by Sunday.

Three of the four previous players of the year-Bryden Macpherson, Dou Zecheng and Callum Tarren-are in the Macao field this week, with only China's Li Haotong, now a European Tour member, absent.

Here's a look at how the quartet have fared since:

Li Haotong (2014)

Li won three tournaments in 2014, his lone PGA Tour Series-China season before moving on to the Korn Ferry Tour. In 2016, Li shot to prominence by winning the European Tour's Volvo China Open, thereby earning membership on that circuit.

Last year, Li outlasted Rory McIlroy to claim a second career European Tour title at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. He represented China at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and in December he will become the first player from the Chinese mainland to play for the International Team in the Presidents Cup in Australia. Li is currently ranked 53rd in the world.

Bryden Macpherson (2015)

The Australian has won two tournaments and been a runner-up twice in his 35 previous PGA Tour Series-China appearances since 2014. After playing the 2015 season on the Korn Ferry Tour, Macpherson returned to China, winning two titles in eight starts to claim player-of-the-year honors. He finished 127th on the Korn Ferry's 2016 money list. Since then, the former University of Georgia Bulldog has continued to play the PGA Tour Series-China while also seeing action on the Asian Tour, with a runner-up finish at the 2017 KG S&H City Asian Golf Championship a highlight.

This season, Macpherson has made eight cuts in nine appearances, with a tie for 13th at the season-opening Chongqing Championship his best performance. He enters this week's Macao Championship 46th on the order of merit.

Dou Zecheng (2016)

Dou's charge to the 2016 money list title was the most dominant season the PGA Tour Series-China has seen in its five-year history. The Henan province native won four times in a seven-tournament span and established a single-season earnings record (1,144,350 yuan).

In 2017, Dou became the first player from the Chinese mainland to win a Korn Ferry tournament at the Digital Ally Open in Missouri. He closed the year 16th on the regular-season money list-good for a jump to the PGA Tour proper. However, he struggled in his rookie season on golf's top circuit, making only four cuts in 23 starts.

A return to the Korn Ferry Tour this year did him wonders, as he won the season-opening Bahamas Great Exuma Classic but still finished three spots outside the top 25 on the points list, thereby missing out on a return to the PGA Tour.

Dou will begin his third Korn Ferry season in January.

Callum Tarren (2018)

In two PGA Tour Series-China seasons, the Englishman never won a tournament. Yet his consistency led to a top-10 order of merit finish in 2017 and the money-list title in 2018, an achievement he accomplished by a mere 2,376 yuan over Charlie Saxon.

In his two full seasons in China, Tarren has made the cut in all 27 tournaments he entered. He began the 2019 Korn Ferry season in encouraging fashion, with a tie for 12th at the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic. However, that proved to be the highlight of his year.

Three other top-20 finishes only left him 82nd on the points list and ineligible for the Korn Ferry Tour Finals and conditional 2020 Tour membership.

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