YANTAI, SHANDONG, CHINA—U.S. college golfers Senshou “Tommy” Cao of China and Hong Kong teenager Chunyin “Eric” Yiu each shot 1-under 71 to top the 18-hole Monday qualifier for this week’s RMB 1.5 million Yantai Championship, the seventh event on this year’s PGA TOUR Series-China.
China’s Zhu Zhuang, Chinese Taipei’s Youngtien Weng and American James Lee shot 72 to tie for third at the Ian Woosnam-designed course at Yantai Nanshan Mashanzai Golf Club and also earn places in this week’s 156-player field.
Korean duo Euiin Kim and Junhyuk Lee both shot 73 to share sixth with American James Back and Japan’s Shigeru Nakagawa, one shot ahead of Chinese amateur Yanzhang Wang, who earned the final qualifying spot by winning a three-person playoff against amateur compatriots Zhijie Jiang and Hongjun Jia.
Cao, 20, is back in China looking to compete in some professional tournaments after finishing his freshman year at the University of Central Florida. After five birdies and four bogeys, he was happy with his performance despite the tricky weather conditions.
“I played pretty good. I hit every fairway and green, and made a few putts despite the challenging weather, so I’m happy with a 1-under score,” said Cao, who is from Guangdong province.
“I’m looking forward to Thursday and I’m playing well, so hopefully I can play well again.”
The 19-year-old Yiu, who has finished his first year at Emory University in Atlanta, also fired five birdies – including in two of his last three holes – and paid tribute to his local caddie as he secured entry into his first pro event.
“My caddie was a huge part of my low score. She helped me read the breaks and told me what to do on some shots, which helped me get five birdies today. I finished strong with a birdie-birdie-par finish, so I was happy with today,” said Yiu, who is planning to turn pro after graduating from university.
“This is going to be the first pro tournament I’ve ever played in so I can’t wait. I’m just thrilled to be able to get some experience and I’ll try my best, but if I don’t make it to the final rounds I’ll be okay with that. It’s just great to get some experience.”
Every tournament on this year’s PGA TOUR Series-China offers RMB 1.5 million, a 25-percent increase over purse levels from 2016.
The PGA TOUR established PGA TOUR Series-China in 2014 as its third international developmental tour, following in the footsteps of PGA TOUR Latinoamerica and the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada. Since its inception, PGA TOUR Series-China players have received Official World Golf Ranking points for top finishes at official tournaments.