Popping painkillers, CT Pan charts solid finish at Mexico Open

0
63
CT Pan - TheGolfingHub
CT Pan started the 2024 season on a medical exemption after being sidelined early last year through a wrist injury and was required to secure 57.8 FedExCup points from 13 starts to earn his Top-125 status. Photo: Getty Images

Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan fought off illness to post a strong tied third finish at the Mexico Open at Vidanta on Sunday which effectively secures his full card on the PGA TOUR for the remainder of 2024.

Related: Riviera win allayed fears that bad can befall me: Matsuyama

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by C.T. Pan 潘政琮 (@ctpan63)

Pan, a one-time PGA TOUR winner, fired a gutsy 6-under 65 in the final round to finish five strokes behind winner Jake Knapp, who secured his maiden title by two strokes from Sami Valimaki, following a closing 71. Japan’s Ryo Hisatsune, who earned a special invitation to the Masters Tournament, came in tied 48th after a 67 while Carl Yuan of China finished T52.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour)

Coming home with the day’s joint low round was a joy and relief for Pan who needed painkillers to fight off a fever and cough over the weekend. He gritted his teeth to sink eight birdies against two bogeys to end a run of two missed cuts.

“After a period of low tide, I’m happy to have tied for third and recaptured my full card for 2024. I didn’t feel like I could make anything. I had fever and was coughing, and both days over the weekend, I took painkillers in the morning. After the round, I went back to my room and slept for 12 hours,” said Pan.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour)

He started the 2024 season on a medical exemption after being sidelined early last year through a wrist injury and was required to secure 57.8 FedExCup points from 13 starts to earn his Top-125 status. He picked up 145 points in Mexico in what was his third tournament of the season and can now look forward to an appearance at the TOUR’s flagship event, THE PLAYERS Championship next month.

Pan, who won the 2019 RBC Heritage and played in the Presidents Cup later that year, produced some magnificent golf to jump up the leaderboard. Playing alongside defending champion Tony Finau, who finished T13, the Asian star opened his birdie account with a 16-foot conversion on the third hole and turned in 33 with three more birdies against two bogeys. His back nine was flawless with four birdies on Hole Nos. 13, 14, 15 and 18, all from inside of eight feet.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour)

His new partnership with veteran caddie Mike “Fluff” Cowan, who has worked with the likes of Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and K.J. Choi, has also began to yield the desired results after missed cuts at the Sony Open in Hawaii and WM Phoenix Open. Pan’s trademark short game was also on full display as he ranked fourth in SG: Around the Green where he gained 4.4 shots over the field.

“My caddie and I did not give up, we encouraged each other, stayed patient to fight and finally achieved a good result,” said Pan, who finished T29 at Vidanta two years ago.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour)

Pan’s next stop is the Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beach starting on Thursday and he will be hoping to recover fully from his ailment and maintain his good form to qualify for the next Signature event, the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard through the AON Swing 5.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour)

Rookie Knapp, who took a four-shot lead into the final round, was caught by Valimaki early on Sunday before he steadied to ship to cruise to a two-stroke victory which now gets him into the remaining Signature events and the Masters, amongst others.

“It’s pretty amazing. I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet. I was super calm last night eating dinner, and going to bed wasn’t an issue. Then I kind of woke up early out of nowhere at like 5:30 and was tough going back to sleep. I was more so just excited to get this day going.”