Tamsui, Chinese Taipei: Lu Wei-chih wrote a remarkable chapter to his inspiring comeback from brain surgery to remove a non-malignant tumour in mid-2012 by winning the Mercuries Taiwan Masters.
Lu battled against the odds to shoot a two-under-par 70 and win the tournament for the third time in his career with a five-under 283 total at the Taiwan Golf and Country Club, which is also his home course.
Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines fired a 70 to finish in second place, one shot behind the champion, while Thais Danthai Boonma and Phachara Khongwatmai shared third place on 285 at the US$800,000 Asian Tour event.
Panuphol Pittayarat of Thailand, who led after each of the first three rounds, slipped to a share of sixth place following a 76.
The story of the day belonged to the 37-year-old Lu, who showed true perseverance to bounce back from his operation and revive his golf career.
“It means a lot to me to win this tournament. After the surgery, I thought I couldn’t play golf any more. To be a winner again is amazing,” said an emotional Lu, who won US$160,000.
“After the surgery I took things slowly. I started step by step. Can you imagine, after the surgery, the doctor said I couldn’t even sneeze! So I took things slow. I started by hitting 100 balls and after that, I blanked out. It was so tiring. At that time I thought I couldn’t play golf any more.
“But my family pushed me. My wife, my father and my mother kept pushing me and kept motivating me to keep fighting. I’m here today because of them. The victory is for them as well. I’m blessed to have them in my life,” he added.
Lu, who won the Taiwan showpiece in 2005 and 2011, fought back from two bogeys in his opening six holes by shooting six birdies against two further bogeys, including one on the last hole where he succumbed to nerves and three-putted.
“At the start of the day, I was not focused at all. I had two bogeys in five holes and my caddie told me that something is wrong with me. He said I wasn’t in the ‘zone’. I started to kick myself from there and played much better golf,” said Lu.
Tabuena, who finished in tied fourth place in the event in 2011 and tied seventh last year, praised the champion.
“Lu Wei-chih deserves to win. To get past the brain surgery shows that when you are down, you can get back up if you work hard. I’m glad he won,” he said.