2005 Spirit Alumnus Pan charges to win Azalea

March 28th 2011 -
Courtesy The Post & Courier

March 27, 2011--Cheng-Tsung Pan said his game plan for Sunday's final round of the Azalea Invitational golf tournament was to be aggressive and go for every flag.

And after a three-putt bogey to open the round, the 18-year-old from Chinese Taipei managed to follow his game plan to perfection, shooting a final-round 65 to pass J.T. Griffin and win the event in record-shattering fashion. Pan's 72-hole total was 265, 19 under par, bettering the tournament record established last year by Florida's Tyson Alexander by three shots.

The final round of the Azalea Invitational Golf tournament was held at the Country Club of Charleston on Sunday.

Griffin also managed to better the one-year-old tournament record by a shot, shooting a final-round 68 for a four-round score of 267. Patrick Rogers, who is headed to Stanford on a golf scholarship, finished third at 67271, while Charleston Southern's Jacobo Pastor was fourth at 67272. Jordan Spieth of Dallas made nine birdies for an 8-under 63 and finished fifth at 273.

'I had a good round. I played really well,' said Pan, who currently is ranked No. 9 in Golfweek's amateur rankings. 'I told myself go for everything out there. I did that.'

Pan, who trailed Griffin by a shot after bogeying the 18th in the third round, finally caught Griffin with a birdie on the ninth hole, his fourth birdie on the way to a front-nine 3-under 33.

He did not let up on the back nine, pulling ahead of Griffin by two strokes with birdies at 10 and 13. He matched Griffin's only birdie of the back nine on the par-5 15th and secured the victory with three straight pars.

'I shot 68 with no bogeys. I just kind of ran into a buzz saw,' said Griffin, a senior at Georgia Tech. 'I missed some putts I wish I could have back. But I can't be upset. I didn't have any bogeys, and that's what I wanted to do, not give any away.

'I didn't hit it great today and the putts I had weren't quite as close as they were the past two days.'

Pan, who has signed to play with the University of Washington, has played in the Azalea for three years now, finishing in a tie for third last year. He said the victory was his first in more than four years, and he hopes it will help his world ranking. Pan is 37th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.

'It will help out my ranking so I can get in U.S. Open sectional qualifying and the U.S. Am, hopefully,' Pan said. 'If I get in the top 50 in the world I automatically get into the U.S. Am.'