China’s Yuan and Chinese Taipei’s Pan Plan to Keep Fighting at Olympics
Six shots out of a podium finish, China’s Carl Yuan does not intend to throw in the towel at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 men’s golf competition after a third round 1-under 70 on Saturday left him with a mountain to climb.
The Chinese No. 1 was disappointed to lose touch of the leaders on a sun-kissed Kasumigaseki Country Club after trading four birdies against three bogeys, including a dropped shot at his last hole which saw him end the day in tied 28th place.
Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan fired a second successive 66 to move up to tied 17th place on 7-under, five shots behind Great Britain’s Paul Casey and Carlos Ortiz of Mexico who currently share third place.
American Xander Schauffele ground out a 68 to take a one-shot lead on 14-under 199 over local hero, Hideki Matsuyama (67), who is looking to deliver a gold medal for Japan some three months after an historic Masters Tournament victory which made him his country’s first male major champion.
Yuan, 24, had high hopes of fighting for a medal following earlier rounds of 69 and 68 but was let down by some costly errors. “Honestly, I didn’t play that good. Left quite a few out there and made a few mistakes which I could have easily avoided,” said the Korn Ferry Tour regular.
“I grinded it hard which I always do. Made some good birdies coming in and some good putts which didn’t drop. I have to learn how to shoot a good score on days when things don’t your way, and stay mentally strong and focus on shot by shot.”
With all to play for on Sunday, Yuan, who won a silver medal for China in the Asian Games three years ago, does not intend to change his game plan although he needs to reel in the top-three leaders for a potential Olympic medal.
“I just have to hit the irons a bit closer and hope for a few putts drop. I would say I wouldn’t need to change much. I think I have a good game plan and just have to really commit to what I’m doing and trust the decisions I make. Just got to be really positive,” he said.
A one-time winner on the PGA TOUR, Pan, who has his wife Michelle on caddying duties, has bounced back strongly with a pair of 66s at Kasumigaseki after a disappointing 74 on Thursday. “5-under last two rounds, it showed I can do it and my game is in it, I just needed an adjustment on my putting stroke after day one, so that really helps,” said Pan.
“It was all putting. I putted terribly, I think I had 37 putts on day one. You can't do that out here, especially with how soft the greens are and how low the scoring will be.”
He hopes to get on a hot streak early in his final round to make a run at a medal, which would mean the world to him. “There are a couple holes that are tough that you just want to get out with a par and easy ones that you definitely want to put yourself in a good position for a 15-footer, 10-footer. Once you get the ball rolling, get the putting hot, I think anything can happen.
“I just love representing my people, my hometown. I've been doing that since I was 11. If you look at my name, my initial, CT, stands for Chinese Taipei. So I was born to do it, I love doing it and I had great success before and I just want to bring another happy news back home for people who are struggling,” added Pan, who is a double gold medal winner in the Asian Games for Chinese Taipei.