Nov 15, 2019: Debutant C.T. Pan hopes to seal his place in Presidents Cup folklore next month at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club, the same iconic venue where compatriots Hsieh Min-nan and Lu Liang-huan claimed a historic and only World Cup of Golf triumph for Chinese Taipei nearly half a decade ago.
Pan, a one-time winner on the PGA TOUR, will be part of an Ernie Els-led International Team seeking to topple the United States Team captained by Tiger Woods in the Presidents Cup from December 9 to 15.
In 1972, Hsieh and Lu, both stalwarts during their heyday following multiple wins across Asia, stunned the golfing world by combining to lift the World Cup at Royal Melbourne. Hsieh, now 79, made it a dream double by winning the individual title as well.
Pan did not miss out on the coincidence that his Presidents Cup debut will be at Royal Melbourne, where memorabilia of the improbable win by Hsieh and “Mr” Lu – who is also best remembered for finishing runner-up to Lee Trevino at the 1971 Open Championship – are prominently displayed inside the clubhouse.
“That’s a pretty cool and interesting coincidence,” said Pan, who qualified automatically for Els’ team as the seventh qualifier on the team standings.
“It’ll be great to replay history and make it happen again especially when I’m the first Chinese Taipei player to make the Presidents Cup. To have the chance to be part of history will be quite amazing.”
Pan, a former world amateur No. 1, enjoyed his career breakthrough in April following his maiden PGA TOUR victory at the RBC Heritage. He is also excited to return to Royal Melbourne where he finished T5 in the 2014 Asia Pacific Amateur Championship.
“It feels awesome. I had a good year. Before the qualifying deadline, I had three good tournaments to lock it in down, especially the last tournament (BMW Championship) where I played with Tiger (Woods) for the first time which is challenging. I was able to shoot some good scores to secure my place. If you can play with Tiger and play well in his company, then you can play with anyone on any course. It was the confidence I needed to get onto the International Team,” said Pan.
“Royal Melbourne is very demanding, requires a lot of accuracy from off the tee and in the approach shots which is something I’m good at. There are spots you don’t want to miss and I’ve played there often enough to know some of the pin positions. More importantly, I feel I’ll be very comfortable on the course. I won’t feel like a first-timer when I get there.”
Throughout 2019, Pan was an active participant in International Team meetings and gatherings initiated by South African legend Els. Pan, who turned 27 earlier this week, believes his teammates will rise to the occasion and deliver an International Team victory over the American juggernaut, who have won the last seven editions. The International Team’s lone victory was in 1998 at Royal Melbourne.
“He’s (Els) done so much … created a new (team) logo and gave us our own flag to fight for. It has a lot of meaning and you feel everyone is going to be fighting for each other. The logo, the flag is a big thing. It shows we are one team. That’s very important as we are so diverse. There’s a lot of team spirit,” said Pan.
“If you look at the Official World Golf Ranking, the U.S. Team are the favourites which is fine. Match play is different though. The world ranking is based on stroke-play tournament results and in match play, we know anything can happen. I feel we have good match play players in our team.”