Tokyo, Japan, August 1, 2021: For Chinese Taipei golfer Pan Cheng-tsung, his bronze medal in the men’s individual stroke play on Sunday afternoon must have felt as good as gold.
Every athlete must work hard for an Olympic medal, but Pan – known popularly on the PGA Tour in the United States as CT Pan – had to work over time in the scorching sun at Kasumigaseki Country Club.
His four-round total of 269, 15 under par, put him in a tie with six other golfers for the bronze medal, behind the new Olympic champion Xander Schauffele of the United States (266, 18 under) and runner-up Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia (267, 17 under).
Pan was in good company, as the seven-strong pack chasing the third place on the podium also included Major champions Collin Morikawa (USA), Rory McIlroy (Ireland) and home hero Hideki Matsuyama.
The Chinese Taipei professional, ranked 208 in the world, survived the first hole of the playoff, the par-four 18th, with a par, as did four other players.
Then came the par-three 10th – and all five golfers produced par to move on to the third extra hole, the par-four 11th. Pan and Morikawa made birdie, and the action moved to the par-four 18th hole where Pan’s par was enough to seal playoff victory and the bronze medal for the CTOC.
A medal seemed out of the question when he opened with a 74 on Thursday. “I texted one of my good friends and I was like ‘The struggle is real,’ he said.
“So, it’s quite a turnaround for this week winning the bronze medal that I couldn’t even think about, didn’t even think about it after Thursday’s round.”
Regarding the seven-way playoff drama, Pan added: “I’ve never been in a playoff with that many people, seven people for one spot, which is pretty crazy.
“I just told myself to keep my head down and hit one shot at a time, and to keep joking with my wife – she’s great, she’s a great caddie.”