Taipei, Chinese Taipei: A brilliant opening-round birdie barrage set Hsieh Ting-wei on course for a stunning victory in the weather-hit opening leg of the Faldo Series Asia’s 11th season.
Thanks to two sub-par returns at Tsai Hsing Elite Club, Hsieh swept to a four-shot success in the Faldo Series Chinese Taipei Championship.
Hsieh, who turned 16 last month, made light of severe thunderstorms on the first two days which disrupted play and forced organisers to reduce the tournament from 54 holes to 36.
Three shots clear of the field after signing for a first round of six-under-par 65 that included nine birdies, Hsieh’s place on top of the leaderboard never came under serious threat.
A second-round 69, highlighted by an eagle-three at the 516-yard fourth, gave Hsieh a winning 36-hole aggregate of eight-under 134.
Hsieh can now look forward to lining up in the 2016-17 Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Laguna Lang Co in Danang, on Vietnam’s Central Coast, next March.
Joining him for the trip to the Grand Final will be Chen Chieh-sheng [Boys Under-21 winner], Liu Yung-hua [Boys Under-21 runner-up], Chen Hsuan [Girls’ Under-21 winner] and Hung Jo-hua [Girls’ Under-21 runner-up].
For the second year in succession, Chen Chieh-sheng topped the standings in his division.
Two strokes ahead going into the final round, Chen comfortably kept his pursuers at bay with a 69 and was even able to afford the luxury of a double-bogey five at the short 18th, rated the hardest hole on the course.
The closest contest took place in the Girls’ Division where Chen Hsuan emerged triumphant after repelling the challenges of Lin Jie-en and defending Faldo Series Chinese Taipei champion Hung Jo-hua.
In what turned into a thrilling battle, Chen, winner of the 2015 National Fall Ranking Tournament and currently the leading girl in the national rankings, set the pace with a first-round 71 – two ahead of both Lin and Hung.
Chen maintained her narrow advantage heading into the back nine before Hung made her move with a birdie at the 12th to draw level. But Chen responded immediately by reeling off birdies at 13, 14 and 15 to open up a three-stroke lead over her rivals.
The drama, though, was not over. Lin, the current National Senior High School Championship Girls winner, and Hung both made twos at the par-three 18th, for even-par 71s and 36-hole totals of 144.
That meant Chen needed to hole a bogey putt for a 72 and a one-shot success. She duly did so.
Six-time Major champion Faldo, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “What a tremendous start to the 11th season of the Faldo Series Asia.
“Despite the disruptions from the elements the standard of play was impressive and there were some outstanding scores. I look forward to welcoming the qualifiers when we gather at Laguna Lang Co next year.”
Supported by The R&A and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the 2016-17 Faldo Series Asia campaign stretches over 11 months.
As well as three events in China and two each in India and Thailand, championships will be staged in Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
Tokyo, Japan: The Professional Golfers’ Association of Japan, one of Asia’s eldest and most respected sporting organisations, has joined the Asian Golf Industry Federation.