Chan overcomes jitters to stay the course
Man and nature tried to impede Chan Yih-shin but the happy-go-lucky Taiwanese was unstoppable as he completed a wire-to-wire Macau Open victory yesterday.
Chan shot his worst round of the week, a two-under-par 69, but it was enough to give him a three-shot victory over Australian David Gleeson and see him take home US$118,875.
It wasn't as easy it looked for Chan, who saw his overnight one-shot lead disappear as soon as play began and was then forced to come from behind. He stormed back with a classy display over the back nine, including four birdies over five holes.
Chan had a nervous start after rain and lightning delayed the final two pairings.
The 34-year-old from Taipei was forced to kick his heels in the clubhouse with the rest of the recalled field, and when play resumed almost two hours later, the effect of that delay was felt immediately when he hooked his tee-shot out of bounds.
Unable to find his ball, Chan trekked all the way back to tee off again and got his round off to the worst possible start with a double-bogey that squandered his slender one-shot lead. That setback seemed to affect him as he traded two birdies for two more bogeys over the next four holes.
'I told myself, 'stay calm'. I tried not to think of anything negative,' said Chan. And the mantra worked, especially over the back nine where he blitzed the rest of the field with a barrage of birdies.
'This probably was my best performance with the putter,' said Chan. 'Putting has always been my strength although it had deserted me in recent times. I'm glad I rediscovered my touch this week.'
The initially patchy form from the man who had led from the outset with rounds of 66, 67 and 68 gave a clutch of others a sniff, including South Korean Mo Joong-kyung, India's Jeev Milka Singh, Zaw Moe of Myanmar, Thai Thaworn Wiratchant and Gleeson.
Having started the day on 12 under, Chan was soon trailing the burly Mo by two shots after he missed an eight-foot par putt to go 10 under. Many others would have buckled under the pressure, but not the smiling Chan, who grabbed the lead at the 12th hole with a fantastic chip-in from the rough for a birdie.
A double-bogey to Mo meant a massive three-shot turnaround and suddenly Chan had his nose in front again.
'That was the turning point I think. That chip-in was very timely for me, but also my main opponent slipped at the time,' Chan said.
At the next hole, Chan found another birdie and Mo's despair continued with another bogey. It stretched Chan's lead to three shots, after which it was Chan's tournament to lose. And he had no intentions of doing so as he finished with a total of 14 under.
Gleeson overcame a poor season to finish second thanks to a well-compiled 66 on 11 under, while last year's champion, Thaworn, finished third a further shot adrift.
Tied in fourth place on nine under were Singh, Moe and Mo.