Chan Cherishes Royal Performance

Chan Shih-chang claimed top honours at the Royal’s Cup. Picture by Paul Lakatos/Asian Tour.

Kanchanaburi, Thailand: Chinese-Taipei’s Chan Shih-chang claimed a magnificent wire-to-wire victory in the Royal’s Cup, his second triumph on the Asian Tour in the space of three months and a fourth in total.

Chan closed with a four-under-par 68 to finish with a total of 23-under at Grand Prix Golf Club for a three-shot winning margin from Thai Sadom Kaewkanjana and American Kim Sih-wan.

Sadom also returned a 68 while Sihwan fired a 70, in the second event of the season on the Asian Tour.

Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong and Korean Kim Bi-o finished three strokes further back, in a tie for fourth after rounds of 66 and 68 respectively. Thai Jazz Janewattananond closed with a 65 to finish joint sixth and suggest the 2019 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion is starting to rediscover his best form.

It looked like being a much closer finish to the US$400,000 event when Chan started the day with a one-shot lead over Kim Sih-wan before the American drew level with him on 21-under after nine holes.

But Kim Sih-wan bogeyed four in row from 10 before Chan took control with three birdies on the trot from the 13th to take a commanding five-shot lead.

Kim Sih-wan and Sadom both made birdies on the last two holes to draw closer, but it was not enough to stop Chan, who won the Blue Canyon Phuket Championship in November.

“It has been a great week, claiming the hole-in-one prize and winning again in Thailand. Amazing,” said Chan, who made an ace on the par-three 16th on the second day and won a Toyota Camry 2.5 HEV Premium.

“To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much coming into this week. I didn’t play well in Singapore and Saudi. I just focused on my routine, tempo and concentrated on every shot. I got off to a good start and that helped a lot.

“I just kept riding on that good form. That ace kept me going as well. I was able to play my best game out there this week. I think that’s the key. I got my swing back and that led me to win this week.”

Chan has now claimed three titles on the Asian Tour in Thailand as he also won the King’s Cup in 2016 – suggesting an affinity with the country and its Royal family.

“It was a pretty tough stretch [on 10, 11 and 12] there where I missed a three footer, four footer and five footer,” said Kim Sih-wan, who was also in the final pairing on Sunday at the Blue Canyon event and SMBC Singapore Open before finishing joint fourth and fourth respectively.

“I couldn’t get it going and you have to make those to get the momentum going. That shut my round down but I did well to get it back at the end. I am pretty satisfied overall. I will get some good rest and go at it again next week.”

Sadom won the SMBC Singapore Open last month and was one of the favourites this week but never really got close to the runaway winner.

Said Sadom: “Today it was tough for me. It was windy and I felt a lot of pressure. I feel like when I play in my home country there is a lot of pressure. I tried to only think about my game, just play and be happy and do my best.

“I think everything was good today, it was just my putting that was so-so. The greens are difficult, and I couldn’t commit to my lines. I thought I would have a chance to catch up with Chan today, but he was playing too well.”

The Asian Tour heads to the International Series Thailand next week at Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin. The inaugural US$1.5 million event is the first of 10 new International Series of events – a ground-breaking series of upper-tier elite tournaments.

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