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      Yuan already dreaming of Paris after 'awesome' debut

      China Daily | Updated: 2021-08-04 09:45
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      Carl Yuan of China plays his shot on the first hole during the Third Round of the Visit Knoxville Open at Holston Hills Country Club on May 15, 2021 in Knoxville, Tennessee. [Photo/Agencies]

      Carl Yuan Yechun believes China is on the right track to eventually win an Olympic medal in men's golf after he concluded his Tokyo 2020 debut with lifelong memories and renewed motivation to go again at the 2024 Paris Games.

      Yuan, the Chinese No 1, finished in a tie for 38th place after closing with a level-par 71 at Kasumigaseki Country Club on Sunday. Compatriot Wu Ashun wound up tied for 32nd after signing off with his best score of the week, a 66.

      American Xander Schauffele won the gold medal with an 18-under total of 266, with Slovakia's Rory Sabbatini finishing one back for the silver, and Chinese Taipei's CT Pan grabbing the bronze following a thrilling seven-way playoff.

      "It's an awesome week. It's such a great honor to be here representing China. I didn't play my best obviously, but I kept my head down and tried hard. I didn't hit many fairways until the last few holes to make some birdies coming in. It's such a great experience to play with the best players. I hope I can become an Olympian again," said Yuan.

      A Korn Ferry Tour regular, the 24-year-old knows his game requires some refining to reach the next level, which he ultimately hopes can result in a PGA Tour card. In the current KFT season, he has posted three runner-up finishes.

      "I think we have a really good chance in the next Olympics in Paris. Our golfers are starting to improve gradually by playing in better competitions. It takes some time for us to get to the highest stage, but definitely we are heading in the right direction. Every day, we're one step closer," said the University of Washington alumnus.

      "I think I need to adapt to the golf course a bit better moving forward. I didn't quite get a hang of it in the first two rounds. Also, I didn't play in any events in the five weeks coming into this week and maybe I could have done better preparation. I just have to keep working hard."

      Mixing with other Olympians at the athletes' village provided Yuan with an experience of a lifetime, and also the inspiration to aspire for more success at the highest level of the sport.

      "It's amazing to be with so many great athletes. You walk into the village and you see so many walking around with the medals around their necks. It's so cool to see that in person. And when you talk to them, they are super nice even when they've just won a gold.

      "It's great to interact with athletes like that and it motivates me to be one of them," said Yuan.

      The 36-year-old Wu, a three-time winner on the European Tour, was delighted to finish on a high-carding a superb 66-even though he was well out of the running for a podium finish.

      "I struggled for the first two days but got some feeling back yesterday. As this was my second time playing in the Olympics, I tried hard and I hope I have the opportunity to play for a third time in three years," said Wu.

      "The Olympics is different from other professional tournaments, which happen every week. The Olympics takes place once every four years and only two people can represent their country. I cherish this opportunity and will try to qualify for the next Games."

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