C.T. Pan breaks through at RBC Heritage for first PGA Tour win
For the fourth consecutive year, a young golfer has celebrated his first PGA victory at the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island. This year, it was Taiwan's C.T. Pan who donned the winner's tartan jacket.
The 27-year-old Pan shot 4-under-par 67 on Sunday to finish at 12-under overall and hold off former champion Matt Kuchar by one stroke.
Kuchar, who was one group in front of Pan, put the pressure on by sinking a birdie putt on the par-4 18th hole. But Pan, who needed a par to stave off Kucher, stuck his approach about 10 feet from the pin moments later, setting up a two-putt for the win.
Pan said he executed his pre-round strategy essentially to perfection en route to the championship.
"Last night, I looked at the hole locations and told myself that I need to just stay even-par through my first four holes," Pan said. "And from the fifth hole to 13, I just need to go all out and fire at every pin, which I did."
The former University of Washington standout went on to birdie Nos. 5, 9, 10, 12 and 16 on Sunday.
This is Pan's third year on tour. He nearly found his first victory at the 2018 Wyndham Classic, tying for second. But Easter Sunday marked his real breakthrough and the moment he'd "always been dreaming about."
"It's really hard for me to believe. I'm just processing it. My phone has been vibrating the last 10 minutes. I was just so happy I finally got it done," he said.
Pan said he's most looking forward to celebrating with his wife, Yingchun Lin, who was not able to attend the Heritage because she was filling in for him at his first sponsored junior championship tournament in Houston.
The couple chartered 10 junior golfers from Taiwan for the event. Pan received news from his wife during his Sunday round that one of those girls won the event.
"This is definitely the best week I've ever had," he said.
"I'm just happy those kids had a good time in Houston. And I had a great time here in Hilton Head. My family just means everything to me. I just want to go back and celebrate."
Pan nearly opted out of the Heritage in favor of attending the American Junior Golf Association event, but his wife convinced him to make the trip.
"Just listen to your wife and you will have a good life. She's right always," Pan said with a smile.
The Heritage has been the only PGA Tour victory for its last four champions: Pan, Satoshi Kodaira, Wesley Bryan and Branden Grace.
The most recent champion who has multiple career victories on tour is this year's runner-up Kuchar, who won the Heritage in 2014.
Kuchar was consistent over the weekend as one of two players in the field to post sub-70 scores each day.
The 41-year-old Georgia Tech graduate is having arguably the best season of a very good career. He now has top-20 finishes in nine of his 14 events. He entered the weekend as the FedExCup points leader and only improved that position.
"The goal every year as a player is to continue to improve and I just feel like all the work I've done with my instructor Chris O'Connell just trying to get a little bit better, I think we've done some really good work," Kuchar said.
"It's tiny little things that add up and it's just constant refining and improving."
The 54-hole leader Dustin Johnson had a day to forget. Johnson entered the final round at 10 under, but he shot a 6-over round of 77 and finished tied for 28th.
The world's No. 1 ranked golfer and a Columbia native, Johnson dropped seven strokes between holes 11 and 15, bogeying 11, 12 and 13, and double-bogeying 14 and 15.
Patrick Cantlay, Scott Piercy and Shane Lowry tied for third at 10 under.