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17 May 2022, 17:40

PGA Tour-bound Yuan shines with runner-up finish

KFNSAS CITY, MISSOURI, 17 May (BelTA - China Daily). - China's Carl Yuan Yechun narrowly missed out on winning a second Korn Ferry Tour title on Sunday when he finished runner-up to Anders Albertson at the Visit Knoxville Open in Tennessee.

Yuan led on the back nine at Holston Hills Country Club, but bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes, where overnight leader Albertson made birdies, proved decisive as the American returned to the winner's circle for the first time since 2018.

The 25-year-old Yuan consolidated his position at the top of the Korn Ferry Tour regular-season points list. He has already won once this season and posted three other top-three finishes to secure a PGA Tour card for the first time in his career.

After opening with a 68 on Thursday, Yuan said he was motivated by an article his wife Cathy sent him, having been out of form lately with two missed cuts and a tied-40th finish in his last three tournaments.

"My game has been struggling the last couple of weeks, and on Friday morning she sent me an article on (world No 2) Jon Rahm, about how he was struggling with his game a little bit where he was focusing so much on technique and losing the feel and flow of the game," said Yuan.

"So the last few days, I reminded myself of who I am and I got to be me when I'm playing golf and that's what I did and it's worked out great. Look forward to keeping that going."

Albertson two-putted for birdie at the par-5 18th to sign for a 66 and finished one stroke ahead of Yuan on 20-under.

Yuan also signed for a 66, having charged into title contention on Saturday with a 62.

Albertson's only previous Korn Ferry Tour victory came at the 2018 Memorial Health Championship, where he birdied two of the final three holes for a two-stroke win.

China's Zhang Xinjun finished tied for 24th after a closing 67, while his compatriot Marty Dou Zecheng also finished with a 67 to settle for a share of 40th.

Dou slipped down to 10th position on the Korn Ferry Tour points list as he seeks a return to the PGA Tour. The top 25 will earn cards.

"I haven't won in four years and to be leading every day, to be looking face to face with all that pressure or all those extra thoughts that come with that for four straight days was a challenge that I was embracing," said Albertson, who became the first Korn Ferry Tour winner since Cameron Young last year to lead or co-lead after every round. "I've had an incredible amount of people help me, and I'm just so grateful for the team that I have."

Albertson began the day with a one-stroke lead, but Yuan, playing alongside him in the final group, pulled even with a birdie at the par-4 first. The two traded birdies at the par-5 fifth, and Yuan built a two-stroke lead with birdies at the par-4 seventh and ninth. Albertson continued to make pars.

"The biggest thing for me is bringing all my focus and strength to play the course and not who I'm playing with," Albertson said of his walk to the 14th tee as he trailed by two strokes. "It doesn't matter, I'm not afraid of making a mistake, I'm not afraid of losing anything, I'm not afraid of hitting a bad shot, I'm not afraid of anything, I'm going to accept whatever happens and continue to attack the course.

"That's aggression I haven't had before, but it's only over the ball," Albertson continued. "Then to just relax and be relational, look around and enjoy the time, playing the course as opposed to playing Carl, it was really what allowed me to hit some really good shots. Mentally, I think I got in my own way in years past in that situation. I was thinking too much about the board and what was at stake."

With the win, Albertson rose from 52nd to ninth on the points list, putting him within 186 points (roughly a solo-third finish) of the 900-point threshold for PGA Tour qualification. Should Albertson reach the 900-point mark in the coming months, it would secure his second trip to the PGA Tour, as he previously graduated following the 2018 Korn Ferry Tour season.

The 2022 Korn Ferry Tour season continues Thursday with the first round of the AdventHealth Championship, hosted by Blue Hills Country Club in Kansas City, Missouri.

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