Lee Chieh-po competes in the US$400,000 Taiwan Glass Taifong Open this week at Taifong Golf Club and could not have asked for a better tournament to play in at this stage of the season.
The Chinese-Taipei golfer has enjoyed a breakthrough year on the Asian Tour – he is currently in 15th place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit – and the only thing missing is a first victory on the circuit.
That could potentially all change this week at an event he has won once before – in 2021, when because of the COVID-19 pandemic the only sanctioning body was the local tour – and finished in the top-10 on five occasions when it was held on the Asian Development Tour (ADT).
“I always feel good coming back to play here at Taifong Golf Club,” said Lee ahead of this week’s event which is debuting on the Asian Tour after seven successful seasons on the ADT schedule.
“I grew up in Yunlin County which is not too far from here so it’s nice to be back. The game has been feeling good. I played very consistently, especially in the second half of the season.
“I was able to stick to my game plan and routines and execute the shots I wanted to hit. The string of top-10 finishes gave me a great boost in confidence. Hopefully, I can putt well this week.”
The ‘string of tops-10 finishes’ downplays a brilliant run of form in successive events that saw him finish joint ninth in the International Series Singapore, tie for fourth in the SJM Macao Open, claim a share of seventh in the Volvo China Open and secure equal eighth in the Hong Kong Open.
Back in April he was also one of the runner ups at the Mandiri Indonesia Open – his best result of the year. The only other time he has come second was in last year’s Yeangder TPC, on home soil, an event he won a year earlier when again, because of the pandemic, it was played as a local event.
He added: “I am happy with how I performed so far this season. I have played some steady golf which is good. Obviously, the goal at the start of the season is to win on the Asian Tour. I did give myself a few opportunities, but I think I still have a lot to learn before I can finally claim that win. I know as long as I stay competitive in every tournament I tee up in, my chance will come.”
He was joint fourth here last year and tees off tomorrow as one of the hot favourites.
“There is an advantage for me this week as I know the course very well,” explained the baby-faced 29-year-old, who enjoyed a fine amateur career prior to turning professional 2015.
“I play here very often. It’s great to see the event being elevated from an Asian Development Tour event to an Asian Tour event this year, considering how high standard this golf course is, it’s worth it. It is going to be a special venue for the foreign players this week.”
Lee is hoping to follow in the footsteps of five-time Asian Tour winner Chan Shih-chang, who is also a six-time champion on the ADT, as he’s a close friend of Chan and godfather to his son.
The close association appears to rubbing off on Lee.
At the Hong Kong Open in November he made an ace with a beautifully struck 196-yard seven iron on the eighth hole at the Hong Kong Golf Club, to become the lucky new owner of a BMW i5 eDrive40 MSE.
It was the sign of a player who is on top of his game and one of the finds of the Asian Tour’s 2023 season who looks like he is one of the stars of the future.
The Taiwan Glass Taifong Open is the penultimate event of the season and will be followed in two weeks by the Saudi Open presented by the Public Investment Fund.