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China's Yuan, Dou ready to laugh their way to success at Zurich Classic of New Orleans

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China's Yuan, Dou ready to laugh their way to success at Zurich Classic of New Orleans
File photo of Carl Yuan (middle) dousing Marty Dou with water after the latter won the The Ascendant presented by Blue tournament in 2022.
Getty Images

Longtime friends Carl Yuan and Marty Dou will team up for the first time in this week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans with the intention to have plenty of fun and laughter as they seek to shine at TPC Louisiana.

The Chinese duo, who are both 27, have known each other for nearly 20 years since a playoff encounter during a junior competition, and their rise onto the PGA Tour has been on similar paths after taking different approaches during their amateur days. 

“I think this year is definitely the best teammate I can find,” said Dou, who is making his third appearance in the only two-man team competition which counts towards the FedExCup race. 

“I’m excited to play with Marty,” added Yuan. “Obviously we grew up playing together since junior golf and we know each other’s games really good. We know if we have a good week out here, we can do great things.”

Playing in his second season on the PGA Tour, Yuan has enjoyed two top-5 results while Dou, who has limited playing rights after finishing outside the Top-125 of the rankings last season, makes only his fourth start. They featured on the Korn Ferry Tour for several seasons together, which forged their friendship even more.

Neither has made the cut with different partners previously at TPC Louisiana, which uses Fourball and Foursomes (alternate shot) formats in alternate days, but the close friends think they have a simple strategy for success this week.

“Carl has told me a lot about making birdies, so it's good for another bogey,” laughed Dou, who was the co-first round leader with compatriot Xinjun Zhang in 2018 following a 60 but missed the cut after a second round 80.

“That could be something we think about during the first round (Fourball). We want to get to the top of the leaderboard, so you’ve got keep making birdies and there shouldn't be bogeys coming out of that, even for alternate shot. I know if I miss a shot, he won't blame me or even if he does, it’s between friends. I think it'll be more relaxed. The year with Xinjun, we're leading the first round, then shot eight over because we thought we had a lot of strokes.”

Yuan added: “No matter how we’re playing, great or average, we’re going to have a great time. We don’t get these kind of opportunities to be partners … it’s something that means a lot more to us than winning golf tournaments. Just being out here, have a good time and do what we can do this week.”

After dominating the amateur golf scene in China, Dou turned professional when he was 17 while Yuan took the US collegiate route by attending the University of Washington and joined the play-for-pay ranks upon his graduation in 2018, the same year when Dou enjoyed his debut season on the PGA Tour.

Dou keeps a close eye on Yuan’s progress and has been impressed by his friend’s achievements this season. “I saw Carl had a couple of top-5s already. He’s good with those chip-ins, knocking it close for tap-in birdies. I’m expecting that from him this week. If I miss a green, he chips it in,” smiled Dou, who has a best of T32 at the Puerto Rico Open this season.

With another team competition on the horizon later this year with the Presidents Cup scheduled at Royal Montreal in September, Yuan hopes he can launch a late charge to be in the running for the International Team to face the US team.

“Definitely one of my top goals for the year and being part of the Presidents Cup,” said Yuan, who holds one victory on the Korn Ferry Tour. “I mean, I will continue to work hard towards it and put more time, more effort, and have a more complete team to help me achieve that. Playing great golf will take care of everything, so definitely the ultimate goal. I just got to stick to my process, do my daily stuff well to hopefully achieve that eventually.”

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