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Brandon Wu is adjusting well to life in the Lone Star State.
The 23-year-old Stanford product, who was born in New York and prepped at prestigious Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, found himself in unfamiliar surroundings when he moved to Dallas in mid-February.
But he’s had plenty of time to settle in. His last tournament was nearly four months ago at Pebble Beach, and he took about a month off at the start of the coronavirus pandemic before only recently returning practice at his new home club, Trinity Forest.
This week, though, was Wu’s official orientation: his first tournament as a resident, at one of the Dallas area’s most notable clubs, Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton, and against a mostly local field.
Wu passed his first Texas test with flying colors, tracking down Longhorn alum and Dallas native Scottie Scheffler and holding off a couple more true Texans, Parker Coody and Will Zalatoris, to win the Maridoe Samaritan Fund Invitational 2.0 on Thursday.
“I knew it was going to be tough to take down Scottie,” Wu said of Scheffler, one of the frontrunners for PGA Tour Rookie of the Year this season who won the inaugural event at Maridoe last month. “He’s an unbelievable player and he’s been having a great year, but I just tried to stick to my game plan.”
For a Stanford grad, it wasn’t overly complicated: hit fairways, find greens and make putts. Simple enough, yet on the first hole Wu chunked 8-iron from the middle of the fairway and came up short of the green.
He managed to save par.
“I was a bit nervous on the first hole,” said Wu, who started the day two shot back of the leading Scheffler. “That was kind of a wakeup call.”
Wu quickly settled in, birdieing the next hole and joining a logjam atop the leaderboard at 10 under after 10 holes. Joining him in a share of the lead were Scheffler, Zalatoris, who plays on the Korn Ferry Tour, and Coody, a rising junior at Texas.
But a hole later, things quickly scattered. Scheffler eagled the par-5 11th hole to take a two-shot lead. Zalatoris bogeyed the 12th to effectively end his chances. Coody couldn’t get the birdies to drop on the back nine.
That left Scheffler and Wu to battle it out down the stretch. After Wu birdied Nos. 14 and 16, he found himself tied with Scheffler at 12 under when they arrived at Wu’s favorite hole, the short par-3 17th.
Wu stuck his tee ball to 3 feet, made the putt and never looked back. A Scheffler bogey to close gave Wu the two-shot victory over a field that included not only several Tour pros but also college All-Americans and junior standouts.
Coody placed third at 10 under, followed by Zalatoris. Austin Smotherman and Stephan Jaeger shared fifth at 6 under, while Abraham Ancer was sixth, another shot back.
“I thought the field was definitely a unique experience for everyone, but I thought it was really exciting,” Wu said. “I have a bunch of friends still playing in college that I got to compete against once again and a bunch of pros that I had grown up watching on TV, as well, so that was a fun mix.”
Wu plans on playing a couple of Monday qualifiers when the Korn Ferry Tour season resumes June 11 in Florida. He has conditional status, so his first start back will come four weeks in at TPC Colorado, where he’ll play on a sponsor exemption.
Even if he doesn’t compete again until then, Wu has already proven he can find success quickly after a long layoff.
“It was cool just to be able to play golf again,” Wu said. “… Hopefully, good things from here on out.”