PGA TOUR U
Chun An 'Kevin' Yu learns to trust himself on the course
July 28, 2020
By Chris Richards, PGATOUR.COM
- July 28, 2020
- Chun An 'Kevin' Yu is currently No. 3 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. (Courtesy of Arizona State University)
Chun An “Kevin” Yu was only 16 years old at the time, but the 2014 Asian Games was a turning point in his golf career.
Yu represented Chinese Taipei and won the bronze medal, while fellow countryman CT Pan was the gold medalist and led his three teammates to a victory in the team competition.
Medals aside, Yu’s greatest prize that week was the bond he created with Pan, who was a senior at the University of Washington and offered advice that would set in motion the next several years of Yu’s career.
“We talked about how great college golf is in the States, and how you get more opportunities and how it helps your path to the PGA TOUR,” said Yu, who grew up one hour north of Pan’s hometown in Taiwan. “That was the time when I decided to go to college in the States.”
Four months after the Asian Games, Yu moved and started attending an academy in Florida. He was a rising senior in the summer of 2015, and many college coaches had already filled out their 2020 recruiting class. Yu’s challenge was twofold – to improve as a player and to get recruited.
He unequivocally accomplished both goals in his only full junior golf season in the United States. In June, he won the Western Junior in a playoff over Carl Yuan (currently a second-year player on the Korn Ferry Tour), and in September he won the AJGA’s Junior PLAYERS Championship.
After his second win of the summer, he committed to Arizona State, which would prove to be perfect symmetry. Yu’s freshman season was Coach Matt Thurmond’s first at Arizona State after 15 years at the University of Washington, where he coached Pan just a few years prior.Chun An "Kevin" Yu with Arizona State head coach Matt Thurmond. (Courtesy of Arizona State University)
"I definitely knew of Kevin because I was coaching his good friend CT Pan at Washington," said Thurmond, who was named Arizona State Head Coach in summer of 2016. "When I got the ASU job that was a really high priority for me, to get Kevin to take those exams (SAT and TOEFL) so he could get here in January 2017."
Yu won in just his third start as a Sun Devil, and in four seasons at Arizona State he has three victories and was a 2019 GCAA First-Team All-American. He is currently No. 3 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and was planning to turn pro after graduating this spring – and then the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of Yu’s senior season.
“I was sad and didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t really turn pro because I wouldn’t be able to get many starts, so I was super concerned about everything,” Yu said. “When the NCAA announced we could have another year, I was super happy and I’m so glad Coach Thurmond gave me the opportunity to play another year.”
Add PGA TOUR University to the equation, and Yu feels even better about his decision.
“I can come back for another year, do great things with the team and for myself, and I get the opportunity to get inside the top five and get the Korn Ferry Tour card. That’s pretty awesome,” he said.
Throughout his college career, Yu has remained close with Pan. Yu qualified for the U.S. Open twice and was a sponsor’s exemption at this year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, and he played practice rounds with Pan at each tournament.
“He’s kind of like me: he’s from Taiwan, he went to college, played the Canadian Tour. He definitely knows my situation and he’s just like a big brother to me,” Yu said. “On the course, off the course, he’s a role model to me.”
Yu missed the cut in all three of those starts, but he knows he’ll benefit from the experience.
“The key thing I learned is that you have to trust yourself. You are as good as, or hopefully even better – you have to trust yourself that you can be at that level,” he said.
Yu’s record shows he has plenty of reasons to trust himself, with wins over TOUR-caliber players on TOUR-caliber courses.
When he won the 2015 Junior PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass, the field included future PGA TOUR winners Matthew Wolff, Viktor Hovland and Joaquin Niemann. Wolff was also in the field when Yu won the 2019 Australian Master of the Amateurs at Royal Melbourne, site of the 2019 Presidents Cup.
His peers have won on the PGA TOUR. It’s only a matter of time before Yu joins them.
“Seeing them win on the TOUR, I’m really proud of them and to know that you beat them before, it gives yourself confidence that when you’re out there, you can beat them,” Yu said. “Hopefully in one year I can be out there winning on the PGA TOUR, too.”