08 September 2019: It was fourth time lucky for Yikeun Chang, a three-time runner-up on the Asian Tour. The Korean posted a final round 66 to clinch a three-shot victory over Kosuke Hamamoto. It was another good week too for Indian golfers. Karandeep Kochhar scored his second top ten finish on the Asian Tour (the first was in 2017 at the Panasonic Open India) at 11-under 277, with a 70 on Sunday.
On the heels of a good result in the Indonesia Open, Shiv Kapur scored another good finish. He ended the week in T17, two strokes behind Kochhar, after a T10 last week. Shiv made three straight 70s after opening the week with a 69.
An even 72 helped Aman Raj to T21, his 8-under total of 280 one stroke better than Viraj Madappa, who was T25. Abhijit Chadha ended the week in T41, just ahead of S Chikkarangappa and Ajeetesh Sandhu, T46 at 2-under 286.
Chang did well to turn tables on the overnight leader Lin Wen-tang, who could only manage a 72 on Sunday. In stark contrast, Chang took advantage of a good putting week to triumph in style.
“I knew I had to start off good because the rain-softened the course, so I knew I could take it low and I started really nice. I think the birdie on number four was huge because I made like a 20 footer there. From then on, I played really well,” acknowledged the winner.
“My main goal on the back nine was to hit the fairways, hit the greens. I knew I was putting well so I knew if I hit it close, I’ll have a good chance. So my main goal was to hit the fairway, hit the green, you know at least make par, and I did that so it feels great.
The 16th hole is hard because on that tee shot I knew I had to hit the fairway and I did that, and I hit a lot of good shots today. I putted well, I hit the ball well and I placed it in the right places. I could have made more putts on the back nine but overall, my putting was good.”
Chang added – “This is my first Asian Tour win and it means a lot to me. I’ve been on this Tour for four years and I’ve had like three second place finishes already. I just couldn’t get it done, but it feels really nice to get it done now. I’m planning to take a one-week break in Taipei before heading back home. I’m looking forward to it.”
Asian Tour Notes
- Yikeun Chang is the first Korean player to win the tournament, which has been held annually on the Asian Tour since 2010. He is also the second Korean, following Taehee Lee, to win on Tour this season.
- Chang tops the stats category for putts per greens in regulation this week with his average of 1.58. Also ranked inside tied-fifth for Average Putts per round (1.47) and Greens in regulation (77.78%).
- Prior to his breakthrough victory, Chang has enjoyed runner-up finishes at the 2017 Yeangder Heritage tournament in Chinese Taipei, the 2018 GS Caltex Maekyung Open and the 2019 Bank BRI Indonesia Open last week.
- Chang won twice on his domestic circuit in 2017, including his National Open, which earned him a coveted spot at The Open at Royal Birkdale, where he made his Major debut that year.
- He topped the Asian Tour Qualifying School in 2016 in his second attempt. He missed the mark in his first attempt in 2014. Chang, however, did not manage to keep his card for 2017 as he finished 101st on the 2016 Order of Merit.
- The Korean regained his card at the 2017 Qualifying School after finishing tied-eighth. He ended the season in 48th place on the Merit rankings and kept his card for 2018.
- Kosuke Hamamoto, whose father is Japanese and mother is Thai, is playing in his first appearance at the Yeangder TPC this week.
- The 20-year-old Thai, who is playing in his first year as a professional golfer, has dropped only a single shot all week. He has stayed bogey-free for the last 52 holes. He’s also the player with the least number of bogeys made in four rounds of the tournament this week.
- Hamamoto started playing golf at the age of eight. He is a former Thai Amateur star, South East Asia (SEA) Games individual gold medalist and was part of the first Thai team to win the Nomura Cup in Malaysia in 2017.
- He was also part of Team Thailand that finished second in the Team event at the SEA Games in 2017.
- Hamamoto came through 2019 Qualifying School last December. Hamamoto, who started the season with a missed cut in Bangladesh, has since posted a tied-28th, tied-16th and tied-10th finish in Jakarta last week.
- He has also posted six top 10s and 13 top-20s on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) and All Thailand Golf Tour (ATGT) in 2019.
- Chan Shih-chang of Chinese Taipei is a two-time winner on the Asian Tour and a six-time winner on the Asian Development Tour (ADT).
- Chan enjoyed a breakout season on the ADT in 2014, when he became only the second player to win three titles in a single season on the secondary Tour. He earned playing rights on the Asian Tour for the remainder of that season after achieving the feat.
- Chan broke through on the Asian Tour at the 2016 King’s Cup in Thailand and went on to win his second title at the Diamond Cup in Japan two months later. He would end his season in a career-high fourth place on the 2016 Asian Tour Order of Merit.
- Chan claimed his six ADT title at the Taifong Open last year. He shares the record of having the most wins on the ADT with Pavit Tangkamolprasert of Thailand.
Scores after round 4 of the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship being played at the par 72, 7108 Yards Linkou GcC course (am – denotes amateur):
267 – Yikeun Chang (KOR) 67-66-68-66.
270 – Kosuke Hamamoto (THA) 66-69-68-67.
271 – Chan Shih-chang (TPE) 69-64-68-70.
272 – Lin Wen-tang (TPE) 67-68-65-72.
273 – Richard T. Lee (CAN) 70-66-72-65, Casey O’Toole (USA) 68-67-71-67.
274 – Danny Masrin (INA) 67-71-68-68.
276 – Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 69-67-70-70, Phachara Khongwatmai (THA) 71-68-65-72.
277 – Malcolm Kokocinski (SWE) 69-67-73-68, Kwanchai Tannin (THA) 70-67-72-68, Karandeep Kochhar (IND) 67-71-69-70, Doyeob Mun (KOR) 67-66-72-72.