Sep 09, 2018: Two brilliant top-five finishes in his last three starts have propelled Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan to new highs on the PGA TOUR and he is crediting his wife, Michelle for the breakthrough.
The 26-year-old finished tied second at the Wyndham Championship three weeks ago when Michelle caddied for the first and he extended his rich vein of form with an equal fourth place at the Dell Technologies Championship on Monday, results which shot him up to a career best 33rd place on the FedExCup points standing and 98th in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Following his Wyndham high, he also enjoyed a special treat when his idol Tiger Woods congratulated him, prompting Pan to post on his Instagram: “Bumped into @tigerwoods this morning before my tee time and he said good playing last week’ to me. I was so excited, just like the kid in this video.”
This week, Pan tees up for the first time in the BMW Championship at Aronimink Golf Club in Philadelphia, which is the third leg of the FedExCup Playoffs. With his confidence soaring, he hopes to complete his season’s goal by getting into the limited top-30 field at the TOUR Championship in two weeks’ time at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
“Since summer, my game has felt good and solid. I just couldn’t find a way to put four good rounds together. However, my mentality has been better the past few weeks and it started when my wife caddied for me at Wyndham. It was good to have her on the bag as when I made a bogey that week, she would encourage me by saying it was fine. It made me realise that you don’t have to make a perfect game to contend and that changed my perspective,” said Pan, who was a four-time All American at the University of Washington during his amateur days.
“Michelle knows me so well on and off the golf course and in between shots, she reminded me to make my mind up for a shot and to be totally committed. When necessary, she told me to slow down my tempo and it was a lot of fun that week. She ‘fired’ me after that … caddying is a tough job but I’m glad she got to experience being inside the ropes. More importantly, it taught me some good lessons about myself.”
Competing in only his second season on the PGA TOUR, the slender Pan finished 88th in last season’s FedExCup points standing to keep safely his card. Breaking into the top-30 after this week’s BMW Championship would be especially fulfilling for one of Asia’s rising stars.
The youngest of six children (four sisters and one brother), Pan learned the game when he was five as his mother worked as a caddy at a local golf course near home. He started winning junior tournaments and arrived in the United States, without knowing English, when he was 15 to attend the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. His talent was good enough to get him into the University of Washington where he won eight events and he reached No. 1 on the World Amateur Golf Ranking for eight weeks in 2013. He won the gold medals in the individual and team competitions at the 2014 Asian Games before turning professional in 2015.
Now that he is slowly establishing himself on the PGA TOUR, Pan is eyeing a winning breakthrough. “It’s been an exciting past few weeks. it’s important to have momentum in the Playoffs. Happy that I got it done last week to get into the third week for the first time and I now have a shot at making the TOUR Championship which was my goal at the start of the year,” said Pan.
“I want to keep being in contention as it’s an amazing feeling. Wish I can do that every week. I feel I have the ability to win, it’s just a matter of time. Need to put my mind in the right place to have a greater chance to win.”
Pan is amongst four Asians who made it through into the top-70 field at the BMW Championship which starts Thursday. The other three Asians are Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama (28th), Byeong Hun An (46th) and Si Woo Kim (53rd), both from South Korea.