Golf: Taiwan's Pan holds off rivals to win PGA Heritage title

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 22 2019 11:21 AM

Cheng-Tsung Pan of Chinese Taipei plays his shot on the fourth hole during the second round of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 16, 2017 in Hartford, Wisconsin. Jamie Squire, Getty Images/AFP

WASHINGTON -- Taiwan's Pan Cheng-tsung held off Americans Matt Kuchar and Patrick Cantlay to win his first US PGA Tour title on Sunday, capturing the Heritage tournament by one stroke.

Pan fired a final-round four-under par 67 at Harbour Town in Hilton Head, South Carolina, to finish 72 holes on 12-under 272 with Kuchar second on 273 and Cantlay, American Scott Piercy and Ireland's Shane Lowry another stroke adrift.

"Dream come true," Pan said. "It's something when I was younger I always dreamed of. It just means everything to have a win on the PGA Tour.

"It means the world to me. I'm really happy I finally did it."

The victory brought Pan, ranked 113th in the world, tour status through the 2020-21 campaign as well as berths in his first Masters next year and his first PGA Championship next month at Bethpage Black.

Pan's breakthrough came in his 79th tour event after only seven prior top-10 finishes. He had twice been a runner-up, sharing second in 2017 at Torrey Pines and 2018 at Greensboro.

Pan, 27, played at the University of Washington and spent eight weeks in 2013 as the world's top-ranked amateur golfer.

In 2014, Pan won team and individual gold medals at the Incheon Asian Games.

Pan's wife Michelle was not with him, instead hosting junior golfers from his homeland at an event in Houston where college recruiters could see them play.

- Back-nine shootout -

Pan won a back-nine shootout after 54-hole leaders faded early.

After sinking a tense nine-footer for par at the opening hole, Pan dropped his approach inches from the cup at the par-5 fifth and tapped in for birdie to join a pack on 9-under.

Pan charged into the lead alone with a five-foot birdie putt to close the front nine, a 10-foot birdie putt to open the back nine and a seven-footer for birdie at the par-4 12th to reach 12-under.

When Lowry made double bogey moments later at the 12th, Pan had opened a two-stroke lead on Kuchar and a three-shot edge on everyone else.

Kuchar answered with a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-5 15th.

Pan then sent his tee shot at 15 into trees right of the fairway and his third into a greenside bunker on the way to a bogey that left him level for the lead with Kuchar.

"I hit four bad shots and I got away with a bogey," Pan said. "I knew I had to get more birdies coming in to make sure I had the W."

Kuchar made bogey at the par-3 17th, finding a bunker and missing an 11-foot par putt to leave Pan alone atop the leaderboard again.

Cantlay birdied the par-3 14th and 15 to match Pan for the lead, but Pan answered the challenge by dropping his approach at the 16th to eight feet and making the birdie putt to lead alone at 12-under.

Kuchar sank an eight-foot birdie at 18 to seize the clubhouse lead at 11-under 273.

Again Pan responded, blasting out of a bunker at the par-3 17th to three feet and sinking the tense par putt to remain on top heading to the 18th tee.

Pan put his approach 18 feet from the cup and lipped out on his birdie putt before tapping in for par to stay one ahead with Cantlay and Lowry yet to finish.

Cantlay missed the green with his approach at 18 and spun his birdie chip past the hole to doom his bid and Lowry missed a 30-foot birdie putt at 17 and with his approach at 18 to give Pan the victory.

"Congrats to C.T. Pan for finishing off strong like that. These were some tough holes here," Kuchar said. "It was a great run. I can't tell you how much fun it was to get into contention on that back nine."

World number one Dustin Johnson, who shared second last week at the Masters, led by a stroke when the day began but fired a 77 to share 28th on 280.

© Agence France-Presse

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