Zecheng “Marty” Dou didn’t come to Kansas expecting to make history in China or in the annals of PGA Tour golf. But after 36 brilliant holes on a picture-perfect Sunday, he did both.
After taking command with a 10-under par 61 in the third round, Dou ended the day with a steady 5-under 66 in the fourth round and claimed a 3-stroke victory in the Web.com Tour’s Digital Ally Open at the Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate.
Dou, who finished at 25-under 259 for four rounds, not only became the first Chinese player to win on the tour, he will also be the first to earn a PGA Tour card after securing a spot among the developmental tour’s top-25 money makers.
Quite an accomplishment for a 20-year old who only turned pro three years ago.
“It’s a big honor, representing China and getting to play with the best and learning from them and competing,” Dou said. “It feels amazing right now. I never thought I could win this year and then it just happened and I’ll just take it.”
Dou played on the PGA Tour China circuit for three years and was its player of the year last season, but he had yet to earn a victory in a Web.com event. But on a long day made necessary when Wednesday’s storms pushed back the first round, Dou put together two rounds that even left him amazed.
He started his day with a four-birdie stretch on the front nine and 10 total birdies, beating his previous low round by 2 strokes. He finished the round with a 1-stroke lead over Luke Guthrie and never relinquished it as Dou stretched it out over the final round with a steady game that saw him collect another five birdies.
“I just played really consistent,” Dou said. “I didn’t make a bogey in two rounds … that was really something. I didn’t think I could do that.”
Dou said he didn’t think about what he was about to accomplish as he walked up the 18th fairway with a 3-stroke lead. But after tapping in a par putt to finish his day, he clenched his fists and let out a “Yes!” in celebration.
Soon he would collect a check for $117,000, putting Dou 15th on the tour’s earnings list with $185,594. And that would start another celebration half a world away.
“It’s going to be pretty big,” Dou said. “We’ve been talking all year about if a Chinese player is going to get their card and how soon are they going to get their card. And I just did it here.”
Guthrie was one of three golfers tied for second at 22-under 262 on a day that saw several players move up and down the leader board. David Skinns, the leader after Saturday’s second round, fell out of contention with a 70 in the third round and finished tied for 13th at 268.
That’s also where Gallatin, Mo., native and fan favorite Brice Garnett finished. Garnett, who at one point had tied for the lead Saturday, shot a 67 for the third round and followed that with a 70.
“I putted poorly today,” Garnett said. “I missed probably three or four putts within 10 or 12 feet in the first round and I just kind of carried it over. But it was still a good week.”