Q+A Celebrity Connection: C.T. Pan
A win at Harbour Town makes you a local forever.
Story by Brooks Golba and Photos by Arno Dimmling
C.T. Pan’s breakthrough victory will have him enshrined in the history books at Harbour Town Golf Links.
After navigating a tough road to the PGA Tour, Pan finally broke through to secure his first PGA Tour win at the 2019 RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing. Being his first win on the PGA Tour, Hilton Head and its most famous golf course have a special place in his heart.
When Pan came back for Heritage Media Day in late February, many great memories came back with him. He and his wife, Michelle, who wasn’t at the tournament last year, retraced his steps on the golf course as he showed her the special moments and parts of his round that led to him capturing his first PGA Tour victory.
The 2020 RBC Heritage (June 18-21) will essentially be a made-for-TV event, played without spectators and the traditional activities that surround the tournament.
[LOCAL Life] You said originally you weren’t going to come play in Hilton Head last year. What made you change your mind?
[C.T. Pan] I was sponsoring an American Junior Golf Association event in Houston that week, the first one I have personally sponsored, and I have a program of 12 kids from Taiwan that I brought to the U.S. to help give them an opportunity. I didn’t want to let them down. My wife talked me into playing, saying that she and my agent would handle things back home. What I learned: Always listen to your wife.
[LL] What do you like about Habour Town Golf Links? [CP] The course is very beautiful and will always be very special to me. It is different from a lot of other courses on the PGA Tour, but in a good way. The golf course is all about angles and using precision to try and make birdies. I think that Harbour Town is one of the few golf courses that we play where the location of the pin dictates what type of shot you hit off the tee. You always have to be thinking about the next shot.
[LL] After winning the RBC Heritage, you received an invitation to the Masters (Nov. 12-14). What are you most looking forward to? [CP] Being able to tee it up at Augusta is something that I have always wanted to do. I’m looking forward to the week I’ll be able to spend on the golf course, hopefully play well, and having my wife caddy for me during the par 3 contest.
[LL] Did the victory also mean a lot in your father’s memory, too? [CP] Yes. I can remember all the late nights watching the Masters or watching PGA Tour events, watching Tiger Woods winning. And my dad would tell me, ‘Hey, I want you one day to do that for me.’ And dad, finally, we’ve done it.
[LL] You said you’re starting a foundation. What is it for? [CP] Yes, with the money I received from the Presidents Cup ($150,000), I was able to start my foundation. The focus is helping kids from Taiwan use golf to help better their education by gaining access to better golf tournaments and more knowledge on how to receive college scholarships. This is very important to me and wouldn’t have been possible without the victory here in Hilton Head, which allowed me to receive an invitation to the Presidents Cup.
[LL] What are your goals for the 2020 PGA Tour season? [CP] I would say that my major goal would be to end up in the top 30 for the Fed Ex Cup. Being able to play in the final tournament of the year at East Lake means that I had sustained success throughout the season and was on the top 30 point-getters for the season.
[LL] As of now you would be qualified for the 2020 Olympics (July 30-Aug. 8). Are you looking forward to competing?
[CP] Yes, I competed back in 2016 representing my home country of Chinese Taipei and look forward to competing again and having a better finish. This is another motivation for wanting to continue to play well in tournaments and accrue world-ranking points.
6 things you probably didn’t know about C.T. Pan
1. Came to the US from Taiwan when he was 15 to go to IMG Academy. He didn’t speak any English.
2. Was an All-American golfer for four years at the University of Washington.
3. Standing 5-foot-6, he is one of the shortest players on the PGA Tour.
4. Was the No. 1 ranked amateur golfer in the world for a time during his youth.
5. Created his own junior golf tournament in Texas to help young golfers obtain college scholarships.
6. At 15, reached the 2007 U.S. Amateur quarterfinals, the youngest golfer to accomplish that feat since the great Bobby Jones.