Taiwan’s new star finishes in top 50

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 - Page 20

Taiwanese amateur Pan Cheng-tsung, who shows amazing poise for a 21 year-old, may be disappointed with his performance in the second half of the US Open, but he has proven that he is a rising star who is ready to compete at a higher level.

One by one, the contenders buckled on the formidable greens at the Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Pan was no exception, slipping from contention to a 45th-placed finish.

The Taiwanese had a stunning run through the middle of the second round, when his name showed up on the leaderboard as he snagged a share of third place behind four-time major champion Phil Mickelson and Billy Horschel.

After a mediocre third round, Pan slipped to 31st, alongside Tiger Woods and six others on Saturday.

Pan regained his footing on Sunday, opening the first nine holes of his final round with a birdie and a bogey, but on the back nine the nightmare started.

Following a double-bogey at the 356-yard par-four 11th, Pan bogeyed the 12th and although he gathered himself with a birdie at the 13th, he went on to bogey both the 14th and 16th, before further worsening his score with a double-bogey at the last.

His six-over 76 slip in the final round gave him a 15-over 295 overall.

Despite the disappointing final round, the University of Washington standout has turned many heads at Merion and he received extensive TV coverage after his impressive second round.

His coach at the University of Washington, Matt Thurmond, sent out an e-mail to Husky golf fans on Saturday urging them to follow the rounds of Pan and his college teammate, Chris Collins, at the US Open.

“Pan and Chris are bringing more and more prestige and admiration to our program. Keep an eye on Pan this weekend. He’s not there for a ‘participant’ ribbon,” Thurmond wrote.

Despite receiving limited recognition in Taiwan and being overshadowed by Yani Tseng, the former women’s world No. 1, Pan also attracted the Taiwanese media spotlight with his impressive US Open performance and he has emerged as the nation’s new hope in international golf circles.

“Thanks for everyone’s support. Now everyone can go to sleep undisturbed,” Pan wrote on his Facebook page, recognizing that his supporters back in Taiwan had to stay up late to cheer for him.