Osaka, Japan: Chinese Taipei’s Chan Shih-chang sparked a superb final-day charge with a flawless eight-under-par 62 to claim his second Asian Tour victory in two months at the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup.
Chan, who started the day with a six-shot deficit, broke his personal best 18-hole score to win by two shots on 10-under 270 at the Ibaraki Country Club’s West Course.
Japan’s Ippei Koike returned a 69 to take second place while countryman Kazuhiro Yamashita was a further shot back in third following a 68 at the ¥150 million (about US$1.3 million) event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour.
Overnight leader Phachara Khongwatmai of Thailand battled to a 72 to share fourth place on 274 with local duo Shugo Imahira and Katsumasa Miyamoto, who carded closing 66s.
Chan, who claimed a breakthrough win in Thailand two months ago, snared eight birdies, including three-in-a-row from 12, against no bogeys to seal the deal in the Japanese showpiece.
“I felt very comfortable. Everything was good. I haven’t been hitting my driver well the last few days but I hit it good today. I was just trying to put the ball on the fairways. My iron play and short game have been solid,” said 30-year-old Chan.
“I didn’t expect to play so well. This is a very challenging course for me because it is very long. I got lucky on 13 where I chipped in for birdie from about 30 yards from the bunker. That felt really good and I gained a lot of confidence from there,” added Chan, who needed only 25 putts.
Chan, a five-time winner on the Asian Development Tour (ADT), also credited his recent successes to his change in mindset, a mentality which he thinks come with age and experience.
“This is my biggest win since turning professional 10 years ago. From winning on the ADT to winning on the Asian Tour now, I think my biggest change is my mindset. I think more positively now.
“I used to get angry easily on the course. I guess it’s because I was still young. I don’t do that any more and I think experience helped,” explained Chan, who took home his career’s biggest prize purse of US$294,204 and moved to fourth on the Order of Merit.
Despite missing out on a maiden Asian Tour win, Phachara took pride in his result which propelled him to 29th place on the Merit list, putting him well in position to secure his playing rights on the Asian Tour for 2017.
“I did my best. It’s a good finish for me. I learned a lot this week. I didn’t hit the ball well today but I made a few good recovery shots. I am happy with my result and even happier to keep my card for next year,” said the 17-year-old, who traded two birdies against four bogeys.