Canadian will have the backing of his Korea-based parents at the Yantai Championship as he chases a Web.com Tour spot, while Hong Kong’s Motin Yeung will start as a favorite after his win in last month’s Kunming Championship moved him to second in the Order of Merit
YANTAI, SHANDONG, CHINA—Canada’s Justin Shin starts this week’s RMB 1.5 million Yantai Championship at Yantai Nanshan Mashanzai Golf Club with high hopes of a second career victory on the PGA TOUR Series-China – especially as his parents have travelled from Korea to watch him play for the first time in six years.
Currently ninth on the Order of Merit, Shin is hoping a first win since 2015 would boost his bid to finish in the top five on this year’s Order of Merit and secure status for next year’s Web.com Tour, having been frustrated by finishing sixth in the 2015 money list and ninth in 2016.
The Canadian is based in Korea when not playing tournaments and this week has the support of his parents, who are watching for the first time since he turned pro in 2014.
“Yantai is pretty close to Korea so I thought it would be a lot of fun to bring my parents here for the tournament,” said Shin, who won the Tour’s United Investment Real Estate Wuhan Open in May 2015.
“The last time they watched me was six years ago. They haven’t seen me since turning pro, so it’s exciting and a win would just be a huge bonus.”
Shin is confident about his game after recording two top-five finishes before missing the cut at the Kunming Championship last month, and is now hoping for a victory over the Ian Woosnam-designed course that plays along the Shandong coastline.
“I’m feeling good. I had a bad week at Kunming, but it was actually good for me to trim out my swing and get it back to where it was. I made some little fixes and everything is back on track. The swing is looking good and I’m feeling good,” said Shin, who has his eyes firmly fixed on the coastal-themed trophy.
“I’ve seen the trophy in the clubhouse and it looks like a nice one. It’s a cutie so I really want to take that. I just want to play good golf out there and hopefully everything follows.”
Hong Kong’s Motin Yeung is among the favorites after a breakthrough victory in Kunming, where he won a three-way playoff against England’s Callum Tarren and American Joseph Gunerman for his first professional title and a full card on the Tour.
Originally from Beijing, the 24-year-old Duke University graduate is now playing some of the best golf of his career, but plans to remain grounded as he competes in his first event as a full member, having previously relied on Monday qualifiers, top-20 finishes or sponsor invites.
“I’m feeling good, but I try not to think too much about the win because it’s already over; it’s in the past. This is a new week so I try to face every week with the same attitude,” said Yeung, the latest player bidding to become the Tour’s first back-to-back winner since Zecheng “Marty” Dou in 2016.
“Honestly, to win you need a little bit of luck – it’s everything coming together. I just want to do the best that I can and if I win, I win, but if I don’t, I’m still happy about my game.”
Italy’s Aron Zemmer, 14th on the Order of Merit, is also eager for a good result after tying for eighth in Kunming and gaining great experience during the off weeks, finishing second individually and with his team at the recent Mediterranean Games in Spain.
“The Mediterranean Games are like a smaller version of the Olympic Games. It’s really nice and the atmosphere is great. There are other athletes and you get to watch other sports, so it’s pretty inspiring,” said Zemmer, who on Tuesday teamed up with China’s Xuewen Luo to win a dumpling-making contest organized by the Tour.
“Sooner or later, you hope to get the win. You have to keep doing what you’re doing and then at the end of the week, you see what comes out.”
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.