Chinese Taipei’s Lu Wei-chih hopes an improved health and fitness regime will help him hit the top gear when he challenges for a fourth Asian Tour victory at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters next week.

The 36-year-old Lu, who won the tournament in 2005 and 2011, will join local stalwarts Lin Wen-tang and Lu Wen-teh in spearheading the home charge at the long-running US$650,000 Asian Tour event, which is celebrating its 29th edition from October 1 to 4.

Young prospects Chan Shih-chang, Pan Cheng-tsung, Hung Chien-yao and Hsieh Chi-hsien will also take aim at recapturing the trophy, which was won by foreigners in the last two editions, when they tee up at the challenging Taiwan Golf and Country Club’s Tamsui course.

Lu, a father of two, had to overcome a big hurdle in his life when he underwent a brain tumour surgery three years ago, forcing him to stay away from competitive golf for close to a year.

The surgery, albeit successful, took its toll on his body and he struggled upon his return to competitive golf in 2013.

Lu found himself getting tired easily on the course and struggling to get through his round.

However, regular exercises and intake of traditional chinese medication had seen his stamina improve greatly this season.

“The Mercuries Taiwan masters is always an event I look forward to play every year. My fitness has improved a lot this season. I have been exercising a lot and I’m taking traditional chinese medicine to improve my body resistance as well,” said Lu.

Lu, three-time Asian Tour winner but not since 2011, is now ready to take a shot at ending a four-year title drought when he returns to his home course next week.

“In the past, I always see myself competing against other players. But now, having been through what was the toughest period of my life, I know the person that I have to challenge against is myself. Whenever I get tired out there, I will remind myself that I can get through it if I persevere enough,” Lu added.

Apart from a strong challenge from the home front, the Mercuries Taiwan Masters has also attracted an elite international field which includes the likes of Thai veteran Thaworn Wiratchant as well as Filipino duo Angelo Que and Antonio Lascuna, who finished runner-up last year.

Players will be vying for good showings at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters to boost their chances of qualifying for the prestigious CIMB Classic and WGC-HSBC Champions.

As of October 26, the leading four golfers from the Order of Merit will earn starting places in the US$8.5 million HSBC Champions in November while the leading 10 players will qualify for the US$7 million CIMB Classic at the end of October.

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