Wu proves sometimes all you need is a chance
June 19, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Dylan Wu finished runner-up at the Lincoln Land Championship presented by LRS. (Preston Smith/PGA TOUR)
Sometimes all you need is a sign, and a chance.
Dylan Wu was practicing in Phoenix last Monday as he prepared for the third event of the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada season. The plan was to fly to British Columbia on Tuesday – until it wasn’t
Wu got the call that he got into the Korn Ferry Tour field at the Lincoln Land Championship presented by LRS. He changed his flight and took an overnighter to Chicago before driving three hours to Springfield, Illinois.
He was about to board his red-eye flight across the country when the sign of things to come first unveiled itself. Wu got a first-class upgrade, for free.
Wu eventually lost in a playoff to Xinjun Zhang, but his runner-up result has shuffled him into the rest of the Korn Ferry Tour schedule for 2019.
“I was debating whether to go to Canada or to play the (Lincoln Land Championship) but my agent said ‘good golf translates no matter where you’re playing.’ It really made sense,” says Wu. “The reason guys go to Canada is to play on the (Korn Ferry Tour), so if there’s a chance to play the (Korn Ferry Tour) you have to take that chance.
“You just need one good week and it can change a lot of things.”
Wu played the Knoxville Open in May and ironically his 36-hole total of 141 was identical then and last week in Illinois, but he missed the cut in Tennessee. He says last week’s golf course was playing more like the U.S. Open than Pebble Beach itself, and even though he was only 3 under on Thursday, he was in the mix.
“It’s easier to make the cut when you’re T-5 than when you’re shooting 2-over and you’re in the bottom 50 guys. I definitely didn’t feel too much pressure,” he says. “I knew I was playing well and I knew I could compete at this stage.”
On 18 Sunday, with Zhang having just made the turn, Wu had more than 200 yards to a back pin, and he told his caddie he was going for it.
“Even though we’re in the lead right now, we didn’t come here to play it safe,” Wu recalls saying, “we were going to try to go for the shot and made birdie.”
The birdie fell and then he waited.
Wu had rode a hot putter and precise ball striking to weekend rounds of 65-63 to finish at 15 under for the week. The 63 on Sunday was his lowest ever round in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event. He finished about an hour before Zhang, who beat Wu with a birdie on the third playoff hole.
“This guy is on pace to be the No. 1 on the money list, he had won already, he’s played on the PGA TOUR, and him and Robby Shelton are probably the hottest guys this year, so I was pleased on how I performed in the playoff,” admits Wu. “I didn’t back down. A guy makes a 25-footer for birdie to beat you … hats off to him. It was a learning experience and really cool.”
Prior to starting his Mackenzie Tour season, Wu was trying to Monday Qualify for most of the Korn Ferry Tour events, and he says he had tried for the better part of a year to try to secure an exemption into the Evans Scholars Invitational, since it was at Northwestern’s home course. Being a recent graduate of the school, he tried hard to get a spot but didn’t end up in the field.
That fueled his fire earlier in 2019, he says, and he ended up 4th at the Canada Life Open – the season-opener on the Mackenzie Tour.
It’s funny how things have turned around for Wu, who says when he was trying to Monday Qualify for events earlier this year he would question why things weren’t working out. He left a four-footer short at one qualifier and nearly lost his voice in his car yelling in anger. He texted his coach saying he didn’t even want to play golf anymore.
But golf, as with life, can change in an instant.
“You hear stories like Max Homa, it’s crazy how just a few good rounds, a few days can change a lot of things,” he says, alluding to Homa’s multi-year journey from PGA TOUR member to outside the top-1000 in the world back to PGA TOUR winner earlier this year.
“I’m always a person that’s confident in myself and I knew this entire year that my game was trending and I felt like I could compete on the (Korn Ferry Tour) and being so close to getting full status. I’m also a firm believer in having your results validate it. Finishing second and shooting 65-63 last weekend gives me a lot of confidence. It makes me feel like I belong, which is pretty cool.”
Wu had grown up a hockey player – he played at a high level for about 12 – which, he admits, was kind of odd for someone from south Oregon. He says for some reason his parents wanted him and his younger, twin brothers to start skating. Now he says he misses it, having not been in full hockey gear in a while. He remembers meeting San Jose Shark stars Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau since he knew someone who was part of the Sharks’ video team. But golf, he says, eventually won out. At 15 he could have played on a select team for the Pacific Northwest, but played an AJGA event instead that summer and started to get recruited by a bunch of colleges. It was time to switch.
Oh, and he realized he wasn’t getting any bigger.
“My brothers and I liked hockey because it was so physical and you could get your anger out. But I’m 5’10 and weigh about 165,” he says with a laugh. “I was the captain of my high school (hockey) team and that was good for leadership. But golf, all the pressure is on you. When you pull it off you get all the credit and you don’t have to rely on other people. It’s why I loved golf a little more.”
His love for golf was no more prevalent than last week when he took the last flight across the country for a chance: A chance to compete on a higher level, a chance to contend and win his first Korn Ferry Tour event, a chance for a quick promotion in a sport where nothing is guaranteed. And sometimes all you need is a chance.
“I know there are only eight events left, but if I keep doing what I’m doing and keep playing solid golf,” he says, “I think I could have a chance to make a run for the rest of the season, which could be pretty special.”