Seoul, Korea: Chang Hsin-chiao’s stunning triumph in the 13th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final has served to fuel the teenager’s ambition to better herself on and off the golf course.
The 16-year-old from Chinese Taipei created what is believed to be a unique piece of golfing history at Laguna Lăng Cô a fortnight ago when she defeated her male compatriot Chen Ting-yu at the second hole of a sudden-death play-off.
“It was a remarkable achievement from Hsin-chiao,” said six-time Major champion Sir Nick Faldo, who hosted the 54-hole R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) event at the acclaimed course he designed in Central Vietnam.
Although boys and girls have occasionally played together in tournament golf, Chang is thought to be the first female to win an event after facing off directly with a male player.
Faldo said: “To go head-to-head with the boy who won last year’s Faldo Series Europe Grand Final and emerge triumphant is a great credit to Hsin-chiao and shows how strong she is mentally.
“I’m immensely proud that the Faldo Series has provided this opportunity – and continues to be at the forefront of growing golf globally. We have been going strong for more than 20 years and now have some 40 Faldo Series tournaments that take place in 30-plus countries worldwide, touching more than 7,000 golfers each year.”
Among the most famous Faldo Series ‘graduates’ are Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, England’s Eddie Pepperell and Japan’s Nasa Hataoka, the 2016 Faldo Series Asia Grand Final Girls’ champion, who claimed her third victory in her last 16 starts on the LPGA Tour at last week’s Kia Classic at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, California.
Chang, who aims to qualify for the LPGA Tour before she turns 19, will certainly take heart from the rapid progress made by Hataoka and the past successes of fellow-Chinese Taipei player Tseng Ya-ni, a multiple Major champion who was the Girls’ champion in the 2005 Faldo Series International Trophy in Hong Kong, the pre-cursor to the Faldo Series Asia.
“Like Ya-ni and Nasa, Hsin-chiao has proved that she has an exceptional talent for golf. She appears to be an individual who is particularly focused and single-minded, which are important attributes if you’re to succeed at the highest level in golf. I very much look forward to seeing how her career progresses from here,” said Faldo.
In the wake of her Vietnam triumph, Chang, who turns 17 at the end of May, wasted no time in returning to her current base in Korea, where she is training at the Golfzon Elite Academy.
In a letter of appreciation to Faldo, Chang, whose win at Laguna Lăng Cô saw her soar 62 places in the WAGR, lifting her to 443rd, the first time she’s broken into the top-500, said: “I would like to say ‘thank you’ for holding this magnificent tournament (Faldo Series Asia Grand Final) and for your contribution to junior golf.
“Being this year’s champion not only makes me have more enthusiasm for golf, but also gives me more motivation to upgrade my skills so that I will be able to do better in the future.”
Chang also offered an apology for being unable to adequately express her gratitude to Faldo because of her limited English. As with her golf, it’s something she’s working on improving.
“I will keep learning English,” said Chang, adding that she’s already setting her sights on mounting a title challenge at this year’s Faldo Series Europe Grand Final at Abu Dhabi’s Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club. “I hope we can meet again in Abu Dhabi and that I can learn more from you,” she said.