Inaugural PGA TOUR University class member Kevin Yu takes lead at Wichita Open Benefitting KU Wichita Pediatrics
WICHITA, Kan. – Kevin Yu came to Arizona State University with no set path to PGA TOUR. As the COVID-19 pandemic washed away what would have been the 2019-20 season, Yu, fresh off a historic junior year with the Sun Devils, had professional talent but no way to earn status. Enter PGA TOUR University. The program produced its inaugural 15-player class earlier this month, with Yu finishing fourth in the standings and earning Korn Ferry Tour starts in open, full-field events for the remainder of the 2020-21 season.
And in the span of 18 days, Yu has gone from finishing his collegiate career at the NCAA Championships, to making his professional debut at last week’s BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation, to securing the 54-hole. ahead of the Wichita Open Benefits KU Wichita Pediatrics.
Yu gave himself the chance to shoot golf’s magic number on Saturday, but settled for a 9-under 61, equaling Crestview Country Club’s course record and 18-hole tournament scoring record in his 32nd year at the Korn Ferry. Tour schedule equaled . Yu’s nine birdie and zero bogey score took him to 19 under par for a week, putting him two strokes ahead of 36-hole leader, Harry Hall.
“I drove the ball well today and hit a lot of greens, so it gave me the chance to make some birdies and I took those opportunities,” Yu said. “I didn’t think about 59. I was close, but I didn’t even think about it. I just wanted to hit a good shot with every shot I hit. Tried to stay in the present.”
Yu opened his third round with four consecutive birdies and added another at the par-4 ninth. Four birdies in the next six holes brought Yu to 9-under with three holes left. A pair of 15 foot birdie putts slipped by on the par-4 16th and par-3 17th, and Yu made a delicate up and down from the back of the par-4 18th to solidify the third 61 of the week.
Yu has played his last 23 holes with a score of 13 under par.
“I think I knew I could be in this situation. I just never thought about leading the tournament in the round,” Yu said. “I was just trying to focus on every shot and not on future things. thinking. My game now, I can win here. From last week to this week I feel like my game has been solid. Definitely gives me a lot of confidence going into tomorrow.”
Yu, a player from Chinese Taipei, first announced his presence in the golf world with a win at the 2015 Western Junior, the oldest national junior golf tournament in the United States. The list of past champions of the event includes veteran PGA TOUR players Collin Morikawa (2013), Rickie Fowler (2005) and Jim Furyk (1987).
In his first three seasons in the state of Arizona, Yu won a tournament every spring. At the start of the spring half of his junior season, Yu won the 2019 Australian Master of the Amateurs Championship, leading a field with future PGA TOUR winner Matthew Wolff. Yu went on to finish the 2018-19 season with a scoring average of 69.20 — which was second after five-time PGA TOUR winner Jon Rahm’s junior campaign (2014-15) in the Arizona state statistical records dating back to 1987 — and earned a first-team All-America Laurier.
Yu ended the incredible season with a third-place finish at the 2019 NCAA Championships, finishing behind Wolff’s Steven Fisk and Georgia Southern.
When COVID-19 struck the following year, Yu returned to the state of Arizona for its fifth year and chose to pursue Korn Ferry Tour status through the newly established PGA TOUR University. The mission of PGA TOUR University is to improve the path to the PGA TOUR for top seniors of college golf. It also encourages players to stay longer in school and continue to work towards a diploma.
The top five players in this year’s PGA TOUR University Ranking List earned Korn Ferry Tour status and a Final Stage waiver of the upcoming Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament. Players who finished No. 6-15 earned Forme Tour status and an exemption from the second stage of the Korn Ferry Tour qualifying tournament.
“It’s just such a good opportunity for us to graduate and get the chance to play on Korn Ferry Tour straight from college,” Yu said. “After COVID happened… I just had nowhere to play. I wanted to be a pro but just didn’t know where to play. Staying for another year gave me the chance to stay in the top five and get into Korn Ferry (Tour). This is definitely a good experience for me. I have to play well every week to make the cut or stay at the top. It’s a really good test for me. The program helped me a lot to get here.
“The first few (holes tomorrow) will probably be quite nervous. But I think I want to stick to the plan, just stay in the present. That’s what I really hope I can do tomorrow: just stay in the present and not think about things in the future, focus on the moment, stick to the plan.”
Yu is a man with a plan and a talented professional golfer with a clear path to the PGA TOUR. A win on the Korn Ferry Tour would certainly speed up the journey.
In Saturday’s third round, the field also set a record for the lowest single-lap average in Korn Ferry Tour history. The field’s average score in the third round was 67,110, beating the previous score record of 67,136 from the 1993 BUY.com Siouxland Open.
Final lap tee times are in groups of three and run from 6:55 AM to 11:25 AM local time from the first tee.