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 on Sunday.
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-par 270 total at the highly-acclaimed Ibaraki Country Club’s West course.
Japan’s Ippei Koike returned with a 69 to take second place while countryman Kazuhiro Yamashita settled a further shot back in third following a 68 at the at the ¥150 million (approximately 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 matching 66s, at the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup.
Chan, who claimed a sensational breakthrough win in Thailand two months ago, blasted eight birdies, including three-in-a-row from 12, against no bogey to seal the deal in the Japanese showpiece.
“I felt very comfortable out there. 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 the 30-year-old Chan.
“I didn’t expect to play so well. This is a very challenging course for me because it is a very long. I got lucky on 13 where I chipped in for birdie from about 30 yards in the bunker. That felt really good and I gained a lot of confidence from there,” added Chan, who amassed 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 experiences.
“This is my biggest win ever 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 then. I don’t do that anymore and I think the playing experiences 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 commendable result which propelled him to 29th place on the Merit rankings, putting him well in position to secure his playing rights on the Asian Tour for 2017.
“I did my best. It’s still a good finish for me. I learned a lot this week. I didn’t hit the ball good 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 Thai, who traded two birdies against four bogeys.
Koike also took in the positives as he capped his career’s best result with a runner-up finish.
“I am happy to give myself a chance to play in the final group today. It was a good experience and I learned to play with patience. I am happy with how I finished. It is not an easy course. This result will give me a lot of confidence,” said the 31-year-old Japanese.