Zecheng Dou takes lead with another 66 at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club
January 25, 2022
By Zach Dirlam , PGATOUR.COM
- January 25, 2022
3 things to know | Round 3 | Bahamas Great Abaco Classic
GREAT ABACO, The Bahamas – Zecheng Dou, a 2017 Korn Ferry Tour graduate, posted a second consecutive 6-under 66, reaching 15-under par for the tournament and taking a one-stroke lead at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club. Dou sits ahead of Brandon Harkins, a fellow 2017 graduate, and two strokes ahead of 36-hole leader Alvaro Ortiz and Erik Barnes, who charged up the leaderboard Tuesday as he tied The Abaco Club on Winding Bay’s course record with an 8-under 64.
A glistening front nine for Dou featured birdies on four of the first five holes and a fifth birdie at the par-5 eighth. Things went a little haywire on the back nine, but Dou countered two bogeys with three birdies, including one via a lengthy putt at the par-5 18th.
“A really random back nine,” Dou said. “Made a couple long putts, had a three-putt, had a bad chip. The front nine, everything was 10 feet, making a putt, made a couple 20-footers. Nothing really came out bad on the front.”
This is the third outright 54-hole lead of Dou’s Korn Ferry Tour career, and he converted the previous two into victories at the 2017 Digital Ally Open and 2019 The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.
However, Dou is not focusing on winning. The Henan, China native who plays from Beijing knows all too well a victory this early in the year does not guarantee a PGA TOUR promotion at season’s end. While he and countryman Xinjun Zhang became the first mainland Chinese golfers to earn PGA TOUR membership at the end of the 2017 regular season, Dou won the season-opening event in 2019 and finished No. 28 in the Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season Points Standings, missing a TOUR card by less than 75 points.
“It’s a really long season and this is only the second week,” Dou said. “I just feel like it’s a normal event. I don’t (feel) anything like (I’m) looking for a really good start, or having something secured already. I just want to enjoy and play my own golf like I’ve been doing the last three days.”
Last season, Dou once again made a run at a PGA TOUR card, ultimately coming up one stroke short. Dou and David Skinns entered the 2021 Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Aetna within 15 points of each other, and only a victory in the regular season finale would yield enough points for a spot in The 25. Skinns saved par on the 72nd hole, won the tournament, and earned his first PGA TOUR card as Dou settled for a T2 and another year with fully exempt status on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Dou put the clubs away for more than two months following the 2020-21 season. Instead of grinding away all fall at PGA TOUR Monday qualifiers or working on his game, Dou vacationed all over the United States.
“That changed my whole mindset,” Dou said. “I forgot about last year, how I finished… missing my TOUR card. Coming out here, it's a new year for me. Glad to have my girlfriend here for these two weeks. I've been coming here alone the past three years. It’s been just really good for me these couple weeks.”
Dou hardly looks back at the run he made in 2017, his rookie season on the Korn Ferry Tour. But Dou, who celebrated his 25th birthday this past Saturday, remains motivated by what he accomplished five years ago.
“I won't look at any scores or any swings or shots (from) back then, but I do see that the time just goes so fast,” Dou said. “It makes me motivated. I want to move up instead of sticking around. It feels good, actually. It feels good.”
Final-round tee times will run in groups of three from 7 a.m. through 9:12 a.m. ET off the first and 10th tees.