Wed, Apr 08, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Lin owes Masters debt to Nicklaus

AFP , AUGUSTA, GEORGIA

Taiwan’s Lin Wen-tang watches his shot on the sixth tee during his practice round for the Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club on Monday in Augusta, Georgia.

PHOTO: AP

Lin Wen-tang plans to walk up to Jack Nicklaus at the Masters Tournament this week and thank the golf legend for a tip that has helped make him one of Asia’s top stars.

Lin will become the first player from Taiwan to feature at Augusta National in 20 years after savoring a career-best season on the Asian Tour last year.

He won in Thailand and Hong Kong and posted nine top-10s to finish second behind India’s Jeev Milkha Singh in the Order of Merit, ending last year in 49th place in the world rankings, which earned him a ticket to this week’s major.

“I’ve watched the Masters on TV since I was 10,” Lin said.

“You can see that the greens are up and down and it’ll be important for me to learn how to play on them quickly when I’m at the Masters,” he said.

“I am sure there will be a lot of attention on me as we’ve not had a player competing at the Masters for a long time. I know there will be pressure to perform and I will try my best,” he said.

While his father, Lin Chia, one of Taiwan’s top professionals, has provided the guiding hands in his career, Lin said a once-in-a-lifetime meeting with 18-time major champion Nicklaus helped shape his rather unconventional but trusty swing.

“I met Jack Nicklaus when he held a coaching clinic in Taipei when I was a junior golfer,” he said.

“He came over and told me that my head was turning too fast when I was hitting through the ball,” Lin said.

“With a club in hand, he used it to keep my head still and I’ve always remembered this tip,” the 34-year-old said.

“I hope to meet him in Augusta [as Nicklaus attends the traditional champions dinner] and tell him what he has done in my career,” he said.

“As a boy, I’ve watched him win the Masters. He is a true gentleman and is always smiling on the golf course. In some ways, I’ve tried to follow him by smiling a lot when I play as well,” he said.

Six Taiwanese players have featured previously in the Masters. Chen Tze-chung, known better as T.C., was the last to compete at Augusta National in 1989.

Lin knows the key to a good campaign will lie on the treacherous greens.

“I thought it was a scary place to be putting at as you can see the players are under a lot of pressure,” Lin said.

“I’ll aim to make the cut at the Masters. There will be a very strong field and my first goal is to make the cut and then try to move up the leaderboard at the weekend,” he said.

“I’m a good putter and I hope to find a good feel on the greens. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Masters since qualifying for it and sometimes it puts added pressure on me. But it’s all good and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Lin said.

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