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Carl Yuan wins playoff for first career Korn Ferry Tour victory at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by MISTRAS

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Carl Yuan wins playoff for first career Korn Ferry Tour victory at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by MISTRAS

    Written by Preston Edwards @KornFerryTour

    BROUSSARD, Louisiana – After four runner-up finishes, and after delaying a chance to earn a PGA TOUR card in order to represent China at the Olympic Men’s Golf Competition last year in Tokyo, Carl Yuan defeated Peter Uihlein on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff for a breakthrough victory at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by MISTRAS.

    Yuan fired a 6-under 65, one of seven scores of 65 or better Sunday, and matched Uihlein at 14-under par for the week. Yuan birdied the first playoff hole, the par-4 18th, hitting a wedge 12 feet past the hole and draining the putt. Uihlein hit a wedge 6 feet short of the hole but missed his playoff-extending birdie putt.

    “I knew like I had to make mine,” Yuan said. “My coach and I worked on a couple things last two weeks just having the confidence over a putt. No matter a 3‑footer or a 40‑footer, I have the same confidence of making it. And I have practiced (a) putt like this hundreds of times when I practice. Definitely dream about having a putt to win a tournament like this, playoff or (on) No. 18.”

    The victory also marked an early (or perfectly timed in his native China) birthday present, as Yuan turns 25 years old Monday.

    “My wife (Cathy) said the birthday boy got to win one,” Yuan said. “I really believed in her and I did the whole day, even though I was a few back to start. It's exciting. It was a tough battle today. I knew coming out of the gate I needed to get hot and make some birdies to have a chance.”

    A native of Dalian, China, Yuan began the day T7 at 8-under par and five strokes behind Uihlein, the outright 54-hole leader. Yuan played his first three holes at even par with a birdie at the par-5 first and bogey at the par-3 third. Yuan dipped into red figures again with a birdie at the par-5 fifth, then rattled off four consecutive birdies from Nos. 7-10. A birdie at the par-4 15th moved Yuan within two strokes of the lead, which Trevor Werbylo held for much of the back nine.

    Playing alongside Uihlein in the final pairing, Werbylo double bogeyed the par-4 13th as Yuan walked onto the 18th tee. Yuan saved par from the greenside bunker at No. 18, while Werbylo made four consecutive pars and maintained a share of the lead. Werbylo’s drive at No. 18 found the penalty area, though, and he missed a 15-footer for par and fell to 13-under par. Uihlein forced a playoff with Yuan after a birdie at the par-4 17th and two-putt par at the 18th.

    It marked the second consecutive year Uihlein, a 2021 Korn Ferry Tour Finals graduate who expects to play predominantly on the PGA TOUR the rest of the season, finished solo second at Le Triomphe Golf and Country Club.

    “That may be harder to do than to win, to finish runner-up twice,” Uihlein said. “I did that actually when I was in junior golf, the Orange Bowl event down in Florida, I finished runner-up three straight years. I think that was more impressive than actually winning. Back-to-back seconds, it is what it is. I enjoyed my time. I like coming here.”

    Yuan knows the feeling of back-to-back seconds, though his were in consecutive events last season. The first two of Yuan’s four career runner-up finishes across 59 career Korn Ferry Tour starts came at the 2020 WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by KraftHeinz and Albertsons Boise Open presented by Chevron. Yuan added another at the 2021 Simmons Bank Open for the Snedeker Foundation last May.

    The trio of T2s, along with three more top-10s, pushed Yuan to No. 27 on the 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season Points List after last June’s Wichita Open Benefitting KU Wichita Pediatrics. In the heat of the race for his first PGA TOUR card, China awarded Yuan a spot on its Olympic team.

    Playing in the Olympics was not without sacrifice. Yuan finished T38 in Tokyo, but missed the remainder of the Korn Ferry Tour season as he fulfilled obligations tied to his representation of China in the Olympics.

    “There were some sacrifices made last year, but it was definitely a once‑in‑a‑lifetime opportunity to play the Olympics, representing my country,” Yuan said. “Definitely something special, and I don't regret doing it. This year, (I had) a little more fire coming out of this year. I knew I needed to get it done because I had a good chance last year.”

    While Sunday was Yuan’s first Korn Ferry Tour victory, he previously won on PGA TOUR China as an amateur at the 2018 Qingdao Championship, his third start in a TOUR-sanctioned event. Yuan delayed turning professional until roughly a month after his victory. The reason being? Yuan wanted to represent China at the 2018 Asian Games, and he helped them win a silver medal.

    Yuan, who played collegiately at University of Washington for three seasons (2015-18), first earned Korn Ferry Tour membership via a T34 at Final Stage of the 2018 Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament. Yuan finished 59th on the 2019 Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season Points List, and ultimately finished 36th in 2020-21 despite the fact he missed the final six regular season events.

    Yuan’s victory takes him to No. 1 on the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season Points List, usurping Brandon Matthews, who finished T21 and dropped to No. 2.

    The 2022 Korn Ferry Tour season continues Thursday, March 24 with the first round of the inaugural Lake Charles Championship at The Country Club at Golden Nugget in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

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