Australian Travis Smyth finally got the monkey off his back and won his maiden title on the Asian Tour when he recorded an impressive two-shot victory in the $US700,000 Yeangder TPC at Linkou International Golf & Country Club, in Taipei.
The 27-year-old from the South Coast of New South Wales drew on a season of strong performances and near-misses to fire his second successive six-under par 66 for a tournament total of 19-under, with defending champion Lee Chieh-po from Chinese-Taipei finishing runner-up after an equally fine 67.
Chinese-Taipei’s Wang Wei-hsuan (67), Nicholas Fung from Malaysia (67), American Berry Henson (68) and Bjorn Hellgren from Sweden (69) tied for third, five behind the winner.
Smyth started the day with a one-shot lead and proved uncatchable after he birdied four out of the first six holes to make the turn in four-under before virtually wrapping things up by making three birdies in a row from the 10th. With a healthy lead, a surprise double-bogey he made on the 15th, which represented his only dropped shots of the day, was not too damaging particularly as he responded with his final birdie of the day on the next hole.
The victory made up for narrowly failing to win the International Series England in June when Smyth ran second – a result that earned him starts on the LIV Golf Invitational series.
“Feels amazing!” said an overjoyed Smyth, who picked up a cheque for $US126,000.
“I got so close, I felt like I let it go in England and to play some LIV events, feel what it’s like there, I just want to get back. I want to be the player that I believe I can be, and winning this week is one step along the journey.”
On the 15th, Smyth’s ball plugged in a bunker, after a big hook with his nine-iron, from where he splashed out and three-putted to make the closing stages slightly more interesting.
He becomes the 11th first-time winner this season, and first Australian to win the event.
“The opening nine, or first five, six holes are quite easy, but it’s a tight course so you have to hit it straight,” Smyth added. “You got to be below the hole, you got to roll the putts in, and I just did exactly that. Set the pace for the day. But you know the guy I was playing with, Lee Chieh-po, he played amazing. I was always like one, two or three shots within him, and he kept playing well and applying pressure, so it wasn’t easy that’s for sure.”
Smyth earned his place on the Asian Tour by finishing joint third at qualifying school in 2018 and after a number of good results since then, a first victory had been expected.