Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan hopes to launch a title challenge at THE PLAYERS Championship starting on Thursday, saying his game feels as good as it has ever been since he began playing on the PGA TOUR.

The 30-year-old is feeling confident ahead of the US$20 million showpiece at TPC Sawgrass following a recent run of strong results which he credited to a switch in the way he thinks on the golf course. “I feel my game is at its best since I’m on TOUR,” said Pan, who finished ninth at the Genesis Invitational and tied 16th at the Honda Classic in the past month.

“A couple of good finishes has helped with my confidence and it also tells me that it’s trending the right way with the things I’ve changed. The whole year so far, instead of focusing on technical stuff with my swing, I’ve focused more on my tempo especially with my putting and long game. It’s really helped increase the consistency with my shots and it puts me in better spots to make birdies.”

While he has yet to crack the top-10 in the TOUR’s flagship tournament in three previous visits to the Pete-Dye designed TPC Sawgrass, Pan, who won the Tokyo Olympic Games bronze medal last summer, is quietly confident he can contend against the stars this week. Justin Thomas will defend his title while current FedExCup No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, who has won two of his last three tournaments, and World No. 1 Jon Rahm will be amongst those trying to win THE PLAYERS for the first time.

“The way I’m playing right now, I think I can have a chance. I just have to make sure my tempo is right and you have to make putts out here,” said Pan, who has won once on TOUR and holds a best finish of T46 at THE PLAYERS in 2018.

“I love this tournament, I think it’s really special. This is our home tournament. The purse is high, what’s at stake is high and there are FedExCup points that I’m hoping for a good finish. It’s as very challenging course. You have to feel comfortable on the tee shots as you have to shape it both ways. The wind is a big factor and it’s always quite different. Greens are firm and fast which makes it a challenging week. It basically tests every part of your game,” he added.

Pan took last week off to prepare for THE PLAYERS and hopes to become only the third Asian winner. Korea’s K.J. Choi won in 2011 while compatriot Si Woo Kim was triumphant in 2017 en route to becoming the youngest winner at TPC Sawgrass as the age of 21.

“The first half of last week, I was chilling at home, making sure my body was recovering well and in the second half, I was out practising and imagining the shots that I would be hitting here. The rough is pretty thick, so driving is very important” said Pan, who is currently 58th on the FedExCup.

“It would be the greatest, if not the biggest achievement (to win) as this tournament always attracts the strongest fields compared to the majors. If you beat all the top players in the world, that is quite an achievement.”

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