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Wu runner-up in Web.com playoff

SPRINGFIELD, Ill — It was a whirlwind week for Dylan Wu, and the professional golfer from Medford capped it off in impressive fashion in only his second appearance on the Web.com Tour.

Wu, a two-time state champion at St. Mary’s before completing a career at Northwestern, birdied five of his final eight holes on Sunday to fashion an 8-under 63 in the final round of the Lincoln Land Championship at Panther Creek Country Club.

That gave him the lead at 15 under, a score that was later matched by Xinjun Zhang, forcing a playoff.

Zhang birdied the third playoff hole to Wu’s par, claiming his second Web.com win of the year.

“This confirms that we belong out here and even on the PGA Tour,” said Zhang, who has locked up his 2019-20 PGA Tour card. “Things that I’ve been working on like ball striking and putting all went well today. It puts me in a great mindset going to the Tour next year. It’s not very often that you get to be in a playoff going for the win. Being in that environment is a great learning experience, feeling the emotions and the intensity of it.”

Zhang pocketed $99,000, and Wu made $59,400.

Wu, 22, has conditional status on the Web.com and had played in only one other event, missing the cut last month in Knoxville, Tennessee.

He was signed up to play on the Mackenzie Tour in the Canada this week, but gained entry into the Lincoln Land as an alternate at the last minute.

“It’s been a roller-coaster week, actually a roller-coaster year,” said Wu. “... I missed a lot of Monday qualifiers in a playoff or by one or two shots. It was a struggle.”

He played two earlier Mackenzie events, placing fourth in one of them. He thought it would be more of the same this week.

“I took a red-eye flight here to get in on Tuesday morning and had a great week,” said Wu.

He made the cut this week for the first time, then went 14 under on the weekend, with a 65 Saturday and Sunday’s 63 on the par-71 layout.

“I played really well this week,” said Wu. “My game has felt great lately, I just wanted to give myself a chance. But in my second Web.com Tour event, to have a chance to win the tournament is incredible.”

He began the day in a tie for 15th place.

His goal was to place in the top 25 and earn entry in this week’s tournament in Wichita, Kansas.

“I learned a lot and am really happy with how I handled my nerves in the playoffs,” said Wu. “I hit a lot of good shots. If you’re going to lose, I’m glad I lost on a birdie to the No. 3 guy on the points list.”

Wu likely earned a place in the remaining tournaments, “which is awesome,” he said.

In the playoff, both players parred the first two holes before Zhang, who shot a final-round 65, pulled it out.

Wu made a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to get to 15 under, then made a 5-foot par putt on the second playoff hole to stay alive.

With the win, Zhang reclaimed the top spot on the season-long Web.com Tour points standings with 1,880 points. Zhang led the tour in points for three weeks earlier in the season but was surpassed by Robby Shelton over the past four weeks.

This win held special significance for Zhang, 32, on Father’s Day as his wife, Chang Hong, is expecting the couple’s second child, a son, this month.

Including the three-hole playoff, Zhang went bogey-free over his final 41 holes (with 14 birdies over those holes). He birdied Nos. 12, 15 and 16 coming down the stretch to force the playoff.

“Xinjun is a great player,” said Wu. “He is third on the points list, he’s won already this year and he’s played on the PGA Tour previously, so there’s a lot to learn from going head-to-head with him. I got paired with a lot of guys this week who have played very well.

“Going from thinking I was flying up to Canada this week to getting in and finishing second, this has been a crazy week.

Nelson Ledesma and rookie Vincent Whaley tied for third at 14 under.

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