Thu, Dec 18, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Taiwanese star eyes US Masters

ON THE UP Lin Wen-tang, 34, has experienced a remarkable and unexpected rise after years as a run-of-the mill touring professional

AFP , BANGKOK

Taiwan’s Lin Wen-tang watches his shot during a practice round at the Volvo Masters of Asia at the Thai Country Club in Bangkok on Tuesday.

PHOTO: AFP

Taiwan’s Lin Wen-tang has the chance to put the icing on the cake following his finest season with a good finish in this week’s season-ending US$750,000 Volvo Masters of Asia.

The 34-year-old is currently ranked 51 in the world and should he finish the week one place higher he will earn a place in next year’s US Masters for the first time.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is .01 points ahead of him and so Lin has him very much in his sights.

Ironically, Lin beat McIlroy in a sudden-death play-off to win the UBS Hong Kong Open last month which is the main reason why he is currently in second place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit with earnings of US$820,839.

The Volvo Masters of Asia, which offers a winners’ cheque of US$135,000, tees-off on today at Thai Country Club and is restricted to the top 65 players on the Merit list.

India’s Jeev Milkha Singh starts as favorite but Lin might well have some more magic up his sleeve.

For nearly 10 years, he was a run-of-the-mill touring professional who occasionally produced a top-15 finish.

However, he recorded a breakthrough victory in the Taiwan Open in 2006, triumphed again the following season in the Brunei Open and this year also claimed the Asian Tour International in Thailand.

It has been a remarkable and unexpected rise to the top.

“People ask me what happened? What did I change? Well there are lots of things like clubs and better mental approach but this is also golf and everyone who plays the game knows you cannot make sense of it some times,” Lin said.

“I am looking forward to this week, the Volvo Masters of Asia is a great event and of course I have a little incentive now which is to get into the US Masters. I can’t imagine what that would be like,” he said.

Lin’s sudden emergence may stem from his heritage. His father Lin Chia was one of Taiwan’s top professionals and his uncle, Lin Chi-hsiang, is also a winner on the Asian Tour. In addition his brothers Wen-ko and Wen-hong are regulars on the Asian Tour.

Lin will play with Singh today as by tradition the players are paired in the first round according to their Merit list ranking.

Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng will defend his title in a field which will also include an in-form Thongchai Jaidee.

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