It was only the 2nd game of this year’s Taiwan PGA Tour, but Chien-soon Lu’s 137-yard shot of a winning eagle on the 18th hole during the fourth round was undoubtedly considered the best shot of the year.  On Sunday afternoon, the veteran, who is heading for the US Champions Tour qualification at the end of this year, shot a 30 on the back 9 holes including birdie, birdie and eagle on the last three holes.  Lu finished the four rounds at 8-under-par 280, defeating Wei-chih Lu and Dong-shu Hsieh by two shots, concluding this year’s Taifong Open with his impressive win.

Two tied for the lead in the first round

The first round took place in the muggy weather, with only 7 players shooting under par in face of the sweltering heat and the challenging course. The champion in 2006 and runner-up in 2007, “Taiwan A-Shin” Yih-shin Chan, swung smoothly while Dong-shu Hsieh from Hsinchu Golf Country Club made an eagle with a lucky bounce.  Both shot a 3-under 69 and took the lead. Tse-peng Chang and Mong-nan Hsu trailed behind by one shot, tied for third with a 70. Wei-chih Yeh, the 2005 champion, Chun-Hsing Chun, the multi-time winner in Changchun(Senior) Taifong Combat, and amateur golfer Ming-chuan Chen tied for fifth with a 71.

 

Yih-shin Chan is pretty good with iron and approach shots, and even better with putts. He made 24 putts through 18 holes to get 6 birdies.  Chan’s 3 birdies in a row on hole 16, 17, and 18 pulled off a strong lead.  Yih-shin Chan said he seemed to connect with the Taifong course particular well, “Every time I participate in tournaments held here, things go well for me. I feel quite at ease, especially during the back 9. Though at first I got double bogey and one bogey respectively, I managed to fight back on the last three holes. That made me more confident. ”

Dong-shu Hsieh eagled the 555-yard par-5 18th hole, which was one of the two eagles of the day. He teed off, and the ball went right to the concrete path, bouncing a couple of times for 70 yards. He then used a 6-iron to hit the ball onto the green that landed 9 feet from the hole, setting up a one-putt eagle. Dong-shu Hsieh said he was lucky today, starting from the 10th hole, none of the tee shots went to the fairway on the front 9 holes, and only 4 did on the back 9, while others mostly fell in the rough. But since he could deliver long shots, it was not a problem for him to hit from the rough; besides, he had confidence in his reading of the green. His 27 putts today were pretty good.


As for Wei-Jen Chang, he used a 6-iron to make a hole-in-one on the 206-yard par-3 12th hole.  This was his first time competing in an official professional golf tournament. It was a pity that the hole-in-one prize of the tournament was set on the 15th hole, but Chang still received an insurance package of 15,000 NT dollars and a bottle of champagne from Taifong as a consolation prize.

Ming-chuan Chen’s surprising performance as an amateur

The weather got even muggier in the second round.  All the golfers were sweating heavily and they kept drinking water to relieve the heat.  But the amateur from Linkou Golf Club, Ming-chuan Chen, shot a 4-under 68 on the day in spite of the sizzling heat, achieving a two-round tally of 5-under-par 139, tied with defending champion Wei-chih Lu, who shot a 67- the best score of the day.
Ming-chuan Chen, who is about to be discharged from military service in October and step into the world of professional golfing, pulled off skillful short game and putting in the second round, grabbing 6 birdies.

 

Chen’s precise approaches brought the ball to a mere distance of between 7 to 10 feet away from hole, followed by his slick putts, which moved him up the leader board. Despite his remarkable performance, Chen, who is relatively small in size, pointed out, “I really should work on the distance of my drive shots with the driver if I want to join the rank of professional golfers.

The defending champion, Wei-chih Lu, managed to make a quick comeback in the second round despite not playing well in the first round. He shot 6 birdies by means of precise irons and putts with only one bogey, a promising performance in defending his title. Chien-soon Lu, who is about to become a senior player at the end of this year, shot a 5-under 67, while the senior player “Two-Teeth” Chun-Hsing Chun shot a 69, both rising to the third place with a 140 that was one shot behind. As for Yih-shin Chan and Dong-shu Hsieh, they lost their first-round lead after carding a 73 and 76 respectively, thus slipping to the 6th and 15th place.

After the end of the first two rounds, 59 golfers including 5 amateurs, qualified for the next two playoff rounds by shooting a 152 or better. The required 8-over par showed that the course of Taifong Golf Club has become more challenging than the past three years.

Wei-chih Lu jumped to the top

During the 3rd round, it became extremely windy due to the looming typhoon.  The wind was blowing in gusts at Taifong Golf Club but there was no rain yet.  It seemed that such strong wind has wreaked havoc on the leaderboard. The amateur golfer Ming-chuan Chen, who was in the lead at the beginning, took an 8 on the first hole and ended up sliding to the 13th with an 80.  On the other hand, the other leader Wei-chih Lu kept his feet firm on the ground despite the strong wind and shot a 71.  Lu finished off the three rounds at 6-under-par 210, which guaranteed him a one-shot lead ahead of “Hot Guy” Mong-nan Hsu from Tamshui, who got a 70 for the day.
Wei-chih Lu, the 2007 champion who defeated Yih-shin Chan in the playoff said, “The wind was really strong today, which made controlling shot distances hard. But my delivery of approach shots was still fine.”  Dring his third shot on the 18th hole, Wei-chi Lu made a 40-yard approach that went directly into the flagstick and settled 2 feet from the hole, setting up a one-putt birdie.  Today he got 3 birdies and 2 bogeys.  

3 birdies were grabbed on four par-5 holes, two in a row on the last two holes, which gave him the one-shot lead.  Wei-chih Lu said his strategy for the last round tomorrow would be “Offense!”  He would be playing offense for all the par-5 holes in order to win.

Mong-nan Hsu won by the irons on the front 9 holes, playing the first and fourth hole both by hitting an iron onto the green that landed 6 feet from the hole, followed by a birdie putt. On the back 9 holes, he got a mixture of birdies and bogeys, three putts on the 10th hole and a drive to the right on the 16th both resulting in a bogey. But the 18-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole, along with the birdie on the par-5 17th hole, made by one approach and one putt over 5 feet, kept him on a firm footing.  He said he grabbed quite a few birdies during the three day game and gained much confidence,. “I am likely to win tomorrow.”
Other three golfers trailed Wei-chih Lu by 4 shots, tied for third at a 214, still with a chance to win the championship.  Among them was Dong-shu Hsieh, who finished the third round at a 69, the lowest of the day, and jumped from the 15th place in the second round to the leading group.  Wen-tang Lin got a 71 that he was satisfied with, rising up from the 11th yesterday, and would do his best tomorrow.  About to turn 50, “Asparagus (the Chinese of Asparagus rhymes with the name Lu Chien-soon in Chinese)” Chien-soon Lu finished the third round at a 74, which was not so impressive, but he remained in the third place, looking to fight for a better score in the fourth round.

Lu turned the tables

The magical “eagle hunting” brought a surprising comeback victory! The older the stronger, “Asparagus” Chien-soon Lu, going to be 50 at the end of this year, shot a 6-under 66 by putting on a fantastic “eagle-hunting” show on the 18th hole in the fourth round of 2009 Taifong Open, which offered a total of 4.1 million NT dollars in prize money. He finished the four rounds at 8-under-par 280 and won a comeback victory by two shots, walking away with the championship trophy and 1 million NT dollars.
This is the second champion title of Chien-soon Lu in Taiwan PGA Tour this year. He got his first at the warm-up Yang-te Invitational on May 20, by rallying into a tie first and then winning the tie-break with an “eagle.” The same surprise happened today. No wonder “Asparagus” raised his arms in victory after shooting the eagle, and was grinning from ear to ear after returning to the lobby. What is more, he said after the tournament, “There’s more on the way. Just wait and see. I’ll win the championship again!”

Chien-soon Lu said he knew before the tournament that the last two par-5 17th and 18th hole would be the key to victory, which proved to be true in the end. After hitting a 7-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole, he told himself, “Yes! It’s (the championship) coming! I have a chance!” He even played the last two par-5 holes as if they were par-4, and shot a birdie on the 17th and an eagle on the 18th, which led him to the championship.

 “Asparagus” started from a 2-under par in the fourth round, playing mediocre on the front 9 holes with one birdie and one bogey to be even par 36, which was 5 shots behind Wei-chih Lu in the lead. He pulled himself together on the back 9, grabbing four birdies and one eagle on the last hole to end up with a 30; especially the last three holes were finished at birdie, birdie and eagle. On the last hole, he pitched the ball from 127 yards away onto the green, which bounced twice and rolled into the hole magically for an eagle, turning his total tally into an 8-under par. Wei-chih Lu and Dong-shu Hsieh, two leading golfers of the last group, both finished 18 holes with a four-round tally of 6-under par, and were outdone by Chien-soon Lu in the end.
Chien-soon Lu said he has gained a numerous number of comeback victories, such as the one in Yang-te Invitational this May.He was two shots behind the previous day but managed to achieve a tie in the last round, and then shot an eagle on the first hole in the tie-break, thereby won the championship over Bo-song Kao.

He won by striking a walk-off eagle again this time, which made it clear that he has the guts, the ability to deal with pressure and the luck that are incomparable.

Chien-soon Lu’s first Asian Tour championship was obtained in the 1983 Barclays Singapore Open, where he also shot a 30 on the back 9 holes to tie with the leading American player and won in the tie-break. Besides, in the 1984 Indonesia Open, originally he was 11 shots behind the leading Australian player in the last round, but he shot a 63 at last that achieved a comeback victory again, which is the biggest gap he has ever overcome to win the championship in his career.

About to be 50 at the end of this year, Chien-soon Lu decided to go to the States for Champions Tour Qualifying Tournament, in order to fulfill his dream as a youth. The travel expenses have been sponsored by enterprises, but the two championships and prize money made him more confident and geared him up for an adventure into the American professional golf world.

It was a bright sunny day in the fourth round, and many fans came to the Taifong Golf Club to watch the exciting event. Por-shih Lin, the chairman of the tournament, said on the award ceremony, “we have an exciting tournament this year, especially the last winning eagle of the veteran, Chien-soon Lu. It’s very interesting and skillful. Besides, the weather has been unusually good in the four days. Hope next year will be more exciting.”

Wei-chih Lu, who dominated the lead with a 6-under par in the third round, made unstable drive shots today on the back 9 holes, and lost the upper hand with a 72. Dong-shu Hsieh was also unable to hold his leading position, winning shots and losing them afterwards, thereby shooting a 68 in the end. Both of them took the second place with a 282, getting 315, 000 NT dollars of prize money respectively. With the biggest chance to defend his title at first, Wei-chih Lu finished 18 holes without knowing about Chien-soon Lu’s winning eagle before him. He even asked Dong-shu Hsieh in the same group who also has a 6-under par, “Does anyone outdo us?” It was not until Dong-shu Hsieh told him the news that he knew Chien-soon Lu has took the championship away.

Beginning in the second place, Mong-nan Hsu could not follow up his victory and had difficulty in winning shots. After the 15th hole, he was still tied for the lead with Wei-chih Lu and Chien-soon Lu, but the situation changed greatly at the last three holes. He hit the ball into the bunker on the 16th and 17th hole, getting 2 bogeys in a row and dropping out of the competition for the championship. He finished at a 74 and took the fourth place alone with a 285. .

Wen-tang Lin, another golfer tied for third in the beginning, played average on the first 5 holes, but his tee shot on the 6th hole landed on the slope on the left, and he hit the second shot OB twice, ending up with 9 strokes. Later he got 3 bogeys on the par-4 10th hole, finishing the last round at an 80 and moved down to the 14th place with a four-round tally of 294.

Strive for Excellence
On June 30 at 11 pm, two days after the Taifong Open, Por-shih Lin (Chairman), Chia-zong Lee (Executive Director), Yu-shu Hsieh (President of TPGA), Tsai-chun Tsai (President of TLPGA), He-Tsai Lu (Chief Referee) and all the staff of Taifong Open gathered in the conference room of the Xue Xue Institute Building in Taipei, to examine the execution of each task and identify the deficits for year’s tournament in order to figure out ways of improvement.

Chairman Por-shih Lin detailed all the follow-up affairs that need to be handled immediately, and the parts that should be improved, such as the delivery of thank-you letters and tournament discs to the sponsors, the poor design of some advertising boards and tournament planning, the lack of media exposure, and the adjustments for the tournament next year. Besides, he requested that the agenda should be standardized, which can become a regular procedure for Taifong Open and Taifong Ladies Open, in order for the two tournaments to get better year after year.

For most golf tournaments in Taiwan, this kind of “strict” and urgent review meeting is scarcely seen. After all, most tournament hosts (or sponsors) consider the investment of money and effort in organizing the tournaments to be “a charity.” The game finished, the champion decided, the prize awarded, everyone applauding, and it is done with. But for Por-shih Lin, President of Taiwan Glass Group and Chairman of Taifong Golf Club, he wants to run the tournament like an enterprise. Not just doing charity, the hosts can gain the benefits of marketing and promotion, even making profits like PGA Tour does. Only if the golf tournaments in Taiwan develop in this way can they build a solid foundation for the golf sport to prosper in Taiwan.

“We can’t be complacent.  It’s nice to know that our efforts in hosting the tournament were well-received.  But we need to be aware of our shortages so we can do better next time.  It’s self-reflection that brings constant progress.” Por-shih Lin said, “From this tournament, I saw how dedicated and idealistic the TPGA President Yu-shu Hsieh is.  President Hsieh’s dedication in promoting the game and Taifong’s efforts in delivering a quality golf Course seemed to have boosted player’s excitement.  Before the game, many domestic golfers drove or chartered buses to our Club for practice and familiarizing themselves with the Taifong course.  It seemed that every player was excited about the tournament and really eager to win.  Such atmosphere was wonderful!  I could also tell that they really care about this tournament, which is truly rewarding for us at the Taifong Golf Club.  It makes us feel that all our efforts are worthwhile.”

“Many players spoke highly of the Taifong Golf Club, calling it a truly challenging course. Golfers said that each shot had to be dealt with great caution and meticulous strategizing and they had to use almost all of the 14 clubs to play the 18 holes of Taifong.”  Por-shih Lin said, “Their comments taught me that the amount of prize money isn’t everything for golfers.  A challenging course actually gets them even motivated.”

As for the Taifong Open next year, Por-shih Lin said the prize money would be increased to a total of 5.2 million NT dollars in the hope to attract the top 20 players of Asian Tour to compete.  Not only would it make the tournament more exciting, but also bring it up to the next level.  Such tournament will give Taiwanese golfers an opportunity to compete with top players of Asian Tour and gain more experience.