American rookie David Kocher is enjoying a dream start on the PGA Tour Series-China.
Playing his first year on a PGA Tour-affiliated circuit after graduating from the University of Maryland, the 23-year-old currently sits No 1 on the order of merit, despite only managing to finish tied for 37th at the Beijing Championship, which wrapped up on Sunday.
Kocher still tops the tour’s money list with 426,720 yuan ($62,343), ahead of compatriot Trevor Sluman who sits second with 388,325.
In the series-opening event in Chongqing, Kocher finished third after gaining entry via the Monday qualifier. He followed that with a tie for 18th at the Sanya Championship before getting a breakthrough victory at the Haikou Championship, where he pocketed 288,000 yuan.
That performance was a monumental one for Kocher, who came from behind and held his nerve en route to a playoff win over Japan’s Yuwa Kosaihira, who finished fourth on the 2018 order of merit.
Now Kocher is looking to maintain his momentum. Although it wasn’t a great week in Beijing, he will certainly be a player to watch at the next two tournaments: Qinhuangdao (May 13-19) and Nantong Championships (May 20-26).
Following a two-week hiatus, the tour will resume with the Suzhou Open (June 10-16) and Huangshan Championship (June 17-23).
Kocher has always known how to win. As an amateur, he won the North Carolina Open in both 2016 and 2017 while still attending college. He played on the GPro Tour during the summer and fall of 2018 and recorded one victory.
Making life easier is the fact Kocher has good friend Joey Lane, a former Virginia Tech golfer, playing on the PGA Tour Series-China. Kocher is also friends with players Pat Cover and Trevor Sluman.
“It’s good to have guys from near my hometown to hang out with, guys I’m familiar with,” Kocher said. “Some of my friends are a little more adventurous than me, but over the past year I’ve gotten out of my comfort zone a little bit. Coming to China was definitely out of my comfort zone.”
Kocher’s other adjustment has been moving from college golf to the pro game and figuring out what it takes to contend and ultimately win.
“You learn how to shoot a lot of even-par rounds in college because you’re usually playing on tough courses. Then you get out on the mini tours and you realize that even-par is not going to get it done,” he said.
“You have to shoot below par to really be in contention.”