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Zhang ready to grab his second chance
2020-02-07 
China's Zhang Xinjun lines up a putt during the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, San Diego, on Jan 23. The 32-year-old finished tied for 55th at the tournament and followed that up with a tied-25th finish in Phoenix last weekend. AP

After making encouraging start to his PGA Tour return, Chinese star has high hopes for 2020

皇家棋牌平台Zhang Xinjun walks with an extra spring in his step these days.

皇家棋牌平台The 32-year-old Chinese is beginning to hit his stride in his second season on the PGA Tour, and feels confident of ticking some boxes on his list of 2020 goals.

皇家棋牌平台Two top-10s last fall at the Safeway Open and Houston Open have pushed Zhang into 46th place on the FedExCup points list. Ultimately, he hopes his fine form will take him into the FedExCup Playoffs and the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer.

"I think I am a lot better this season. My techniques are better and I am more familiar with the golf courses. Generally, I feel like my game is not struggling as much as before," he said.

皇家棋牌平台Zhang's consistency this season is evident through his top-50 stats rankings for "strokes gained in approaching the green", "around the green" and "tee to green". However, he realizes there is work to be done on his driving and putting, where he ranks outside the top 100 for both categories.

皇家棋牌平台Most important for Zhang, though, is the fact he feels more at ease with himself whenever he shows up at events such as this week's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. "I am more relaxed. When I first started, I gave myself a lot of pressure," he said.

Zhang endured a baptism of fire in his rookie PGA Tour season in 2018. In 28 starts, he posted only one top-10 finish and missed 16 cuts.

A return to the Korn Ferry Tour last year provided a much-needed confidence boost for Zhang as he won twice to finish No 1 on the regular-season points list and regained his PGA Tour card in the process.

皇家棋牌平台"I think my biggest change is my mentality. I am more adjusted to the competition in the US," said Zhang, who at one stage worked as a security guard at a golf club in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, before learning to play the game.

Zhang teed off at iconic Pebble Beach on Thursday on the back of two solid performances.

皇家棋牌平台He finished tied for 55th at the Farmers Insurance Open and then shot weekend rounds of 68 and 66 to finish T25 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Sunday. In his lone appearance at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2018, he secured a T43 result.

皇家棋牌平台"I love playing at Pebble Beach. The tournament is held on three courses and each course has its own specialty. I love them all. I hope my feeling for this special place can bring me some luck this week," he said.

皇家棋牌平台"I definitely would love to play in the FedExCup Playoffs but my priority right now is to get myself into the best condition that I can be. My schedule is pretty full, so I need to be on top of my game. I am confident I can keep my tour card and get into the FedExCup."

Zhang also has his sights firmly set on representing China at the Olympics in Tokyo this summer. He is on course to make the two-man team, along with current Chinese No 1 Li Haotong.

"That will absolutely be a big honor if I can get into the Olympics," he said. "I am taking it one day at a time."

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