Taiwan’s Tsai Chi-huang battled fatigue and the elements to win the Mercuries Taiwan Masters for the second time in his career, despite shooting a final round of four-over 76 yesterday.
Tsai started the day with a six-shot lead courtesy of a 65 in the third round at the Taiwan Golf and Country Club in Tamsui, New Taipei City, and it proved to be enough as he defeated closest rival Antonio Lascuna of the Philippines by four shots.
Lascuna’s 73 saw him miss the chance to take advantage, with Tsai’s fellow Taiwanese Chan Yih-shin tied for third place with David Lipsky of the US.
Lipsky shot a 67, the best score of the day in the US$600,000 Asian Tour event.
Tsai, who registered a winning total of four-under 284, told the Asian Tour that he barely slept the night before the final round, so nervous was he about finishing off the job.
With only a three-hour night’s rest, he struggled early in the round. He was four-over after 15 holes, but gained some momentum when he sank a huge 30-foot birdie putt on 16.
“Honestly, I couldn’t sleep last night. I was wondering if I could make it to the end. I felt like I was still sleeping when I was on the first tee box,” said Tsai, who pocketed US$120,000.
“It was only when I finished 18 holes that I knew my dream had come true,” he said.
“The wind was blowing all over the place and I wasn’t the only one who was struggling. I guess I’m quite lucky to have won this,” added the 44-year-old, who also won the Mercuries Taiwan Masters in 2002.
Lascuna, who claimed his second runner-up finish in six seasons on the Asian Tour, stayed in touch with the leader for most of the round, before three-putting for bogey on the last.
“I saw the scores and I knew I had a chance to win, but I was playing par golf for most of the second nine and couldn’t score. I’m still happy with my result. I haven’t been in this position for a long time,” said the 41-year-old Filipino, who is still searching for his first victory on the Asian Tour.
Chan, a two-time Asian Tour winner, narrowed Tsai’s lead to two shots at one point, but slipped back with a bogey on 16 and a double-bogey on 18.