Amateur golf sensation Tiffany Chan creates history for Hong Kong in Taiwan pro event
21 year-old shrugs off approaching typhoon to win Taiwan LPGA-sanctioned Future Open and becomes first player from city to claim a professional women's ranking tournament
Severe Typhoon Soudelor was churning towards Taiwan late on Friday, but that did not stop amateur sensation Tiffany Chan Tsz-ching becoming the first player from Hong Kong to win a professional golf tournament carrying women's world ranking points.
Chan stormed to a four-shot victory in the NT$3 million (HK$735,000) Future Open, a professional Taiwan LPGA-sanctioned event held on the outskirts of Taipei.
Watch: Tiffany Chan talks about her golfing ambitions
The 21-year-old, who broke into the top 10 of the World Amateur Golf Ranking late last year, started the day a shot behind overnight leader Hsieh Yu-ling, but breezed past her more experienced opponent with a brilliant back-nine in high winds at Tong Hwa Golf and Country Club to finish with a three-under-par 69.
"I came into the event with the aim of being the best amateur, but I handled myself well in the conditions and played an almost perfect round," said Chan, who finished with a nine-under-par total after opening up with scores of 72 and 66.
"I've always liked playing in the wind. With the typhoon coming, there was a chance the final round would be cancelled, so I'm really happy with the way the weather and everything worked out. It's very satisfying."
Still trailing Hsieh by a shot heading to the par-five 12th, Chan chipped in for eagle to take the outright lead for the first time.
"I knew I had to make at least a birdie there, so to see the ball go in for eagle was a pretty exciting moment," said Chan. "But I knew there were a few holes to go and it wasn't until the 15th, where I holed a 20-footer for birdie, that I thought I could win."
Another birdie came at the 17th, where she found the par-five in two, allowing Chan to take a strong lead into the last hole.
"I hit a good drive down the fairway on the 18th and I was pretty confident from that point that I was going to do it," said Chan, who made a last-minute decision to play in Taiwan after failing to make it into this week's US Women's Amateur.
As an amateur, Chan was not entitled to the winner's share of the prize purse, which instead went to Hsieh.
By her own admission, Chan has struggled with her game in recent months. Despite solid results at the Queen Sirikit Cup and the inaugural Hong Kong Ladies Open, both of which took place at the Hong Kong Golf Club earlier this summer, Chan had been unhappy with her ball-striking.
But three consecutive weeks of practice at Fanling, with input from the club's director of golf, Dean Nelson, and Hong Kong Golf Association national coach Brad Schadewitz, has her back to her best.
"I'm playing as well as I have in a long time and I'm very thankful for the support I've had from both the Hong Kong Golf Club and the Hong Kong Golf Association," said Chan, who will enrol at the University of Southern California this month after two seasons at Daytona State where she was ranked the number one junior college golfer in the country.
"It's great to win an event as big as this before heading back to the States."