TAIPEI (CNA) – Pan Cheng-tsung (潘政琮) became the first Taiwanese golfer to win a PGA Tour title in 32 years, after holding off his American rivals Matt Kuchar and Patrick Cantlay at the RBC Heritage PGA Tour Golf Tournament on Sunday.
Pan, ranked 113 in the world, fired a final-round four-under 67 at Harbour Town in Hilton Head, South Carolina, to finish 72 holes on 12-under 272.
Kuchar was second on 273, while Cantlay, American Scott Piercy and Irish Shane Lowry were another stroke adrift.
“Dream come true,” Pan said in an interview after winning his first PGA Tour title. “It’s something when I was younger I always dreamed of.” Pan, 27, was twice a runner-up – in 2017 at Torrey Pines and in 2018 at Greensboro. His win on Sunday was the first by a Taiwanese in 32 years.
“It means everything and it means the world to me,” he said. “That’s why I came to the U.S., that’s why I came to college to go through a lot of necessary steps to be here. I’m just very, very happy that I finally did it.” He attributed his success largely to his late father, who encouraged him to get into the sport.
“He told us that he believed this sport has a really good potential in the future,” Pan said. “And obviously I didn’t know anything back then. And my dad would tell me, ‘Hey, I want you one day to do that for me,’“ Pan said. “And dad, finally, we’ve done it.” Pan, who is from humble beginnings in Miaoli in northern Taiwan, said in an interview in 2016 that playing golf was a dream he and his father shared.
They often talked about competing in amateur golf tournaments, the Asian Games and PGA Tours, he said.
“Thanks to my father, I got to play golf,” Pan said. “I know that he will always watch over me and I have to work hard to keep all the promises I made to him.” Pan’s father, who was a caddy, died of an illness in 2010.
Pan has now set his sights on the PGA Championship in May, the Players next March, and the 2020 Masters, according to Golfweek, a U.S. website that covers major professional golf tours.
A former player at the University of Washington, Pan was at the top of the world’s amateur golfer rankings for eight weeks in 2013.
In 2014, he won team and individual gold medals at the Incheon Asian Games.
He has now become the second Taiwanese to win a PGA Tour title, after Chen Tze-chung (陳志忠) in 1987.
His share of the 2019 RBC Heritage US$6.9 million purse will come in at US$1,242,000 – the standard 18 percent payout, according to the PGA Tour’s prize money distribution chart.
The RBC Heritage, South Carolina’s only PGA golf tournament, takes place annually at Harbor Town Link Golf course on Hilton Head Island, according to its official website.
By Chung Yu-chen