Saxon, Yuan playing together at Beijing Championship
July 25, 2018
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- July 25, 2018
- Charlie Saxon leads the PGA TOUR Series-China Order of Merit. (PGA TOUR Series-China/Zhuang Liu)
BEIJING, China—PGA TOUR Series-China Order of Merit leader Charlie Saxon and fellow big hitter Yechun “Carl” Yuan, winner of last week’s Qingdao Championship, will play together in a high-profile threesome in the first two rounds of this week’s RMB 1,500,000 Beijing Championship.
Saxon leads the Order of Merit, with RMB 811,585 from eight events, having won this year’s Changsha Championship and Guilin Championship.
Poised for a return to the Web.com Tour, Saxon is happy to be back at Topwin Golf and Country Club, where he won his first 72-hole pro title, in 2016, on his way to finishing second on the Order of Merit behind current PGA TOUR player Zecheng “Marty” Dou. With that finish came 2017 Web.com Tour membership.
“It was great, and I really enjoyed that whole experience. I shot 66 in the final round and won when [current PGA TOUR player] Xinjun Zhang missed a putt on the last and I tapped in,” said Saxon, who is set to play the first two rounds with Yuan and Italian Aron Zemmer, who has three top-10s this season.
“I love this course and love being here in Beijing. Topwin really suits me and my game, and another win would go a long way to me winning the Order of Merit. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t any pressure, so I’ve just got to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I’ve been playing well all year,” the 25-year-old Oklahoman said.
Saxon is one of many in the field who has played the Ian Woosnam-designed course before. Saxon still has his notes from two years ago.
“I keep all my yardage books in an old shoe box. I looked back at my old yardage book from the 2016 event and see some notes I wrote down back then, so it’ll be fun to compete here again.”
In contrast, Yuan had never seen the course until he played nine holes Monday and another nine Tuesday. Last week the 21-year-old became only the second amateur to win on the Tour, following long-time China national team teammate Cheng Jin, who was 16 when he won the Nine Dragons Open in November 2014.
Yuan is looking forward to his rematch with Saxon after the two long hitters played together last week for the first two rounds at Tiger Beach Golf Links, where the Chinese amateur even drove the green on the 372-yard par-18th.
“Charlie and I hit it about the same. He’s a really good player. We played together last week, and I’m excited to play with him again,” said Yuan, who has identified three par-4s where he could potentially drive the green at Topwin, which has hosted the last three Volvo China Opens on the European Tour.
“This is a great course, although it was slightly wet on Tuesday due to the rain. I’m excited about it. You’ve got to play smart because it’s a risk-reward course. I think I can drive the green on Nos. 7, 11 and 15, although I need to check because I’ve only played each hole once.”
Shunyat “Jason” Hak, who led for three rounds of the 2016 Ping An Bank Open at Topwin, and Hong Kong teammate Motin Yeung are also in the field, the latter seeking a second win on this year’s Tour after his breakthrough triumph at last month’s Kunming Championship.
Yeung had previously only played two “casual rounds” at Topwin, and his preparation this week included giving a lesson to Xingfang Xie, the former badminton star who played in Wednesday’s pro-am.
“I think if I can keep my ball-striking up, I should be able to score well on this course. Obviously, I wasn’t happy with how I played last week, so I hope I’ll hit it better this week. My putting is feeling fine,” said Yeung. “I worked on my rhythm and a couple things on my backswing, so hopefully it will work out. I have a lot of friends here in Beijing and some might come out to the course this week, so it will be nice to have them watch me play.”