Kevin Yu, Austin Eckroat shine in first round as pros
June 10, 2021
By Chris Richards, PGATOUR.COM
- June 10, 2021
- Kevin Yu opened up the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation with a 5-under 66. (Taylor Crosby/PGA TOUR)
As a junior golfer, Kevin Yu won The Junior PLAYERS Championship in just his second start in AJGA competition.
At Arizona State, he won in just his third start as a freshman.
On Thursday in his first start as a professional, he opened with a 5-under 66 at Thornblade Club and is just three strokes off the lead at the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation.
“Definitely, I’m trying to win,” Yu said. “On the course, just trying to be myself, just stick with the strategies and not think about winning or that future stuff, just try to stay in the moment. Definitely expect to win, but I’m just trying to play golf out there.”
Coincidentally, Yu’s mentor CT Pan also shot 5-under in his first round on Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada in 2015. Pan went on to finish T26 in his debut and in his second start, he won.
Yu played four PGA TOUR events as an amateur, including three U.S. Opens, but never made a cut and his best score was an even-par 70 at Winged Foot last year. He bettered that mark by four strokes on Thursday, thanks to six birdies.
“I missed a couple tee shots, but not big mistakes,” Yu said. “You’ve got to miss in the right spot, I think, and that’s what I did today. If I can get my tee shot a little better the next three rounds, I think I’ll shoot a low score, for sure.”
Fellow PGA TOUR University alumnus Austin Eckroat also opened with a 5-under 67 in his debut. Like Yu, Eckroat has some TOUR experience to draw from – he made three starts as an amateur and posted rounds of 69-69-67-65 to finish T12 at the 2020 Mayakoba Golf Classic.
He said that his game isn’t necessarily suited for “birdie fests,” but his scorecard might suggest otherwise – he went out in 5-under 30 and made two eagles on the day.
“The nerves go away when you birdie your second hole and eagle my fifth hole,” Eckroat said. “I felt pretty comfortable pretty quick.”
The solid starts by Yu and Eckroat are even more impressive when you consider they are making their debuts at a tournament that is played on two courses with a celebrity Pro-Am format, and just nine days after they finished their college careers.
“Obviously hectic coming from Nationals, getting things ready to play professional golf,” Eckroat said. “Also, just playing two courses, having a 50-minute drive. It’s been all over the place, but just once you start playing golf it all settles down.”
Yu and Eckroat have settled down, all right, and it didn’t take long at all.