Chinese Taipei’s rising star Chan Shih-chang will be up against the Asian Tour’s top guns when he competes in the US$650,000 Mercuries Taiwan Masters at thefabled Taiwan Golf and Country Club’s Tamsui course from October 2 to 5.
The talented 28-year-old took a big step in his golfing career when he earned his playing rights on the Asian Tour for the remainder of the 2014 season following three victories on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) this season.
Chan is the first player ever to claim three ADT victories in a single season.
Chan, whose breakthrough victory on the ADT came in Sabah last year, was not only triumphant on the ADT, but also on his domestic circuit where he has won three other titles this year.
He leads the current ADT Order of Merit after a season’s haul of US$66,991, which is the highest amount earned by a single player since the burgeoning Tour was inaugurated as a gateway to the Asian Tour in 2010.
However, it will not be a walk in the park for Chan at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters as he will be up against title holder Scott Hend of Australia, China’s Zhang Lian-wei, Thai stars Thaworn Wiratchant and Prom Meesawat, who claimed his long-awaited second Asian Tour victory in Chinese Taipei two weeks ago.
Past champions Thailand’s Pariya Junhasavasdikul, Chinese Taipei’s Lu Wei-chih and Lin Wen-tang will also feature in this storied event which was inaugurated in 1987 and modelled after the Masters Tournament in the United States.
It will also be celebrating its 28th edition as the richest Asian Tour event in Chinese Taipei this season.
Having enjoyed a great season which surprised even the man himself, Chan will be in high spirits competing in front of his home fans as he now aims for a maiden Asian Tour victory.
“I never expect myself to do so well at the start of the season. I thought I should just make full use of the playing opportunities out here. The ADT turned out to be a great platform for me to hone my skills. The more tournaments I play, the more experience I get and the better my game becomes,” said Chan, who resides in Hsinchu, a city in Northern Taiwan.
“I gained a lot of experience playing on the ADT. My first win in Sabah last year kind of set me in the right mindset for the following tournaments. I’ve won a couple of times in play-offs and I’m glad I have been through that kind of situations. Those experiences were important and they helped a lot in my game,” added Chan.
Local hero Lin, a six-time winner on the Asian Tour, praised Chan for his efforts as he strives to win the prestigious Mercuries Taiwan Masters for the second time since 2009.
“It’s really pleasing to see younger players like Chan doing so well. It shows that the game is growing in Chinese Taipei and it motivates players like me to continue to do well so I can keep up with them,” said the 40-year-old.
Lin, who sits in 41st position on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, produced some of his best golf in 2014 with a tied-fifth finish at the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters in April. He also won the Ballantine’s Taiwan Championship on the ADT on home soil in August.
“I think my experience is the only advantage I have against the younger players. I have to work a lot of on my fitness to compete against them but having said that, I love sharing my experience with them and I always try my best to help whenever they come to me with questions on their games,” added Lin.
The Mercuries Taiwan Masters is one of two Asian Tour events held in Chinese Taipei annually.
The Asian Development Tour, which was launched in 2010 as a gateway to the premier Asian Tour, will also stage a total of three events in Chinese Taipei this season.