MACAU—This week, Max McGreevy will play in the Macau Championship, a tournament he hopes is the final PGA TOUR Series-China tournament of his career. No knock on the Tour that has put him on the cusp of a money-list title, but as the No. 1 player on the Order of Merit, McGreevy is assured a top-five finish, which will earn him 2020 Korn Ferry Tour membership. That’s where he wants to be next year, PGA TOUR Series-China merely a temporary—albeit, important—stopover. But even the Korn Ferry Tour is not his ultimate destination. He is on the designed path, though—China to the Korn Ferry Tour to, he hopes, ultimately, the PGA TOUR.
The Korn Ferry Tour is a circuit McGreevy knows well, and he’s anxious to return. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma, McGreevy played on the 2018 Korn Ferry Tour, seeing action in 16 tournaments. His lone season there didn’t go as he planned, as he made only seven cuts, finished 161st on the money list and had one top-40 finish—a tie for 38th in Tennessee, at the Knoxville Open. That’s how he ended up in China, which has been an exceedingly successful move as McGreevy has been consistently good all year, his earnings bearing out that point.
There are two main benefits of finishing No. 1 on the Order of Merit, should McGreevy do so: He will earn the Player of the Year Award and will be fully exempt on the next year’s Korn Ferry Tour, meaning he can play in any tournament he chooses.
Before either of those things happen, though, McGreevy has to maintain his RMB 177,259 lead over Trevor Sluman at the end of this week. If McGreevy can do that, he’ll end up as the fifth Player of the Year in Series history.
In an unusual twist, three of the four previous Players of the Year are in the field here this week, only China’s Haotong Li, a European Tour member, absent. With Bryden Macpherson (2015), Zecheng Dou (2016) and Callum Tarren (2018) all playing in the Macau Championship, we look back at the four Players of the Year since their seminal PGA TOUR Series-China seasons and where they are in their careers.
Haotong Li (2014)
Current Tour: European Tour
China’s Li won three tournaments in his lone PGA TOUR Series-China season, moving on to the Korn Ferry Tour in 2015 and 2016. In 2016, the arc of his career changed when he won the European Tour’s Volvo China Open, earning him immediate membership on that Tour. In 2018, he added a second career European Tour win, at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, outlasting Rory McIlroy. He represented China in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, and in December he will become the first player from Mainland China to play for the International Team in the Presidents Cup. Li is currently the 53rd-ranked player in the world.
Bryden Macpherson (2015)
Current Tour: PGA TOUR Series-China
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 and in only eight starts, he won his two titles on his way to Player of the Year honors. He spent 2016 back on the Korn Ferry Tour, finishing 127th on the money list. Since then, the former University of Georgia Bulldog has continued to play on PGA TOUR Series-China, while also seeing action on the Asian Tour—a second-place finish at the 2017 KG S&H City Asian Golf Championship a highlight. This season, in nine appearances, Macpherson has made eight cuts, a tie for 13th at the season-opening Chongqing Championship his best performance. He enters this week’s Macau Championship 46th on the Order of Merit.
Zecheng Dou (2016)
Current Tour: Korn Ferry Tour
In 2016, Dou turned in the most-dominant season PGA TOUR Series-China has seen in its five-year history. That season, the Henan, China, native won four times in a seven-tournament span and established a single-season earnings record (RMB 1,144,350) before moving on. In his rookie Korn Ferry Tour season, in 2017, he became the first player from Mainland China to win a Korn Ferry Tour tournament when he was victorious at the Digital Ally Open in Missouri. He used that win to close the year 16th on the Regular Season money list, good for a jump to the PGA TOUR. In 2017-18, Dou struggled, making only four cuts in 23 starts. A return to the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019 did him wonders, as he won the season-opening Bahamas Great Exuma Classic. Even with the victory, Dou finished outside the top 25 on the points list that would have guaranteed him a return to the PGA TOUR. Instead, he ended the season 28th. He easily maintained his Korn Ferry Tour membership, however, and he’ll begin his third season in January.
Callum Tarren (2018)
Current Tour: None
In two PGA TOUR Series-China seasons, the Englishman never won a tournament. Yet his consistency is what 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 RMB 2,376 over Charlie Saxon. In his two full seasons in China, Tarren played in 27 tournaments, making the cut in every one of them. In his Korn Ferry Tour season in 2019, Tarren opened quickly, with a tie for 12th at the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic. As it turned out, it was the high point 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.