Marty Zecheng Dou is ready to show he truly belongs amongst golf’s elite when he takes a second crack at the PGA TOUR starting with this week’s season-opening Fortinet Championship in Napa, California.
Dou endured a forgettable debut season in 2018, missing 17 cuts from 23 starts but with more competitive golf miles in his legs, a permanent U.S. base and added maturity, the 25-year-old believes he can finally make an impression as he and close friend, Carl Yuan push each other to deliver China’s first winner on the PGA TOUR.
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“I feel so much more confident, comfortable coming out here now,” said Dou, who earned his PGA TOUR card through the Korn Ferry Tour where he notched one win and five other top-10s to finish fourth in the season-long points race.
“I feel every part of my game is ready. I’m just very excited. That year (2018), it feels like not knowing what to do coming out on TOUR, but this year, I know I’m going to play good and find my way.”
Dou is amongst 50 Korn Ferry Tour graduates who have benefitted from the grind and pressure-packed competition on the development circuit, which has unearthed the likes of current World No. 1 and 2022 PGA TOUR Player of the Year Scottie Scheffler.
The young Chinese has also developed more power in his game by hitting a driving average of 315 yards which ranked him in the top-25 in the recent season. In 2017 when he first played his way onto the PGA TOUR, Dou averaged 300 yards from off the tee.
“I feel I’m mentally more prepared. I know what’s in my game that I can achieve and what I’m looking for. I also know what I need to work on. I find myself feeling better being in the U.S. unlike in 2018 where I had no place to stay and I was just travelling and travelling. Everything feels more comfortable now, feels more like something you’ll do with life instead of just playing golf all year long,” said Dou, who has made Dallas his base in recent years.
While he had compatriot Xinjun Zhang for company on the PGA TOUR in 2018, Dou is excited his close friend, Yuan will be competing alongside him for the 2022-23 Season. They have known each other since their junior days and are pushing each other on to become China’s first PGA TOUR champion.
“It’s always good to compete together and have another Chinese buddy who’s playing out here. That relationship is great. If he (Yuan) can play good, I know I can play good as well. It’s like the guys going to college … they play on the same team and when they turn pro and one plays good, the other guys know they will do the same. That’s how they improve. I think it’ll be the same for us this year,” said Dou.
Yuan, who will be making his PGA TOUR debut after finishing second on the Korn Ferry Tour ranking, concurred with Dou. “I think it’s awesome. Me and Marty, we know each other since we’re 10 or 11. We’ve been really good friends. We talk a lot and it’s great we have a friend out here to push each other. And we’re really competitive. At the same time, we try to have a good time together. We love each other so much but we try to beat each other every time we tee up,” said Yuan.
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Dou knows if either one can pull of a victory, it would be another catalyst for further growth of the game in their homeland. “I think it will be historical for sure especially with the population in China,” he said.
“Golf isn’t quite as popular as over here (in the U.S.) and knowing there hasn’t been one winner yet, I think it will happen very soon. It’s something to think about but not be prepared for because it’ll take a long road for China golf to achieve what we really can do,” added Dou, who rose through the ranks when he finished as No. 1 on PGA TOUR Series-China in 2016 following four victories.
“I don’t have specific goals for this season. It’s about trying to play my best. I know if I can play good, I can win. We’ll just need to keep practicing, keep doing our best and improving throughout the year. It’s a long season and there will be chances. Just try to play my best like I did on the Korn Ferry Tour and I’m sure I’ll be fine.”