The C.T. Pan Junior Championship returns to the Clubs of Kingwood this week in Kingwood, Texas. This is Pan’s third time hosting an AJGA tournament since 2019, when he brought kids over from Chinese Taipei to compete at his event. Pan maintained and broadened the platform for them by hosting two tournaments and providing the opportunities he valued during his junior career between 2007-2010.
“AJGA affected my golf career in a very significant way,” Pan shared. Being an AJGA alum himself, Pan talked about the high-level competition he endured as a junior golfer, “AJGA provided a great environment for me to compete against the top players in the world, the names you can recognize now like Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and others. I think that’s really important to me.”
"In a way, AJGA tournaments helped me become a better player because of competition, variety of the courses to play, and an opportunity to meet college coaches to help me get better education, that’s the opportunity you never miss."
The opportunities Pan was given as a junior golfer played a huge part in his interest in hosting an AJGA tournament. Pan is passionate about making golf more inclusive and creating more opportunities for juniors, like the kids from Chinese Taipei. “I want kids back in my home country to know about the AJGA and give them the opportunity to perform in front of college coaches, which can be a life-changing opportunity for them.” Thinking of the path he took to the University of Washington through playing AJGA tournaments, Pan added, “it changed my life.”
Speaking of the juniors he brought from Chinese Taipei, Pan couldn’t be prouder of those kids. “At my first AJGA tournament in 2019, one of the girls, Hsin-Yu Lu, that we brought from my home country won the tournament." Lu currently plays for the University of Oregon and represented them in the NCAA D1 Women’s Golf National Championship in May. Pan makes sure to keep an eye on all of the achievements the juniors had even after they went to college. “It’s a great achievement just watching them grow up, become better players and people, and at the same time get an education. It’s fun to be part of their journey.”
"I would like to provide the opportunity to the kids and that’s my way to grow the game. I feel that I have the responsibility to be the bridge to help them become better players."
Another junior that inspired Pan a lot was C.T. Teddy Lin, a rising junior at the University of Washington. Having the same name initials and going to the same college as Pan, Lin felt a special bond with his role model. “I chatted with C.T. and Michelle, and they helped me to determine my goals to play on the PGA TOUR and become the best golfer in the world.” Lin recognized the assistance that C.T. and Michelle gave to him to get into college, “To pursue my dream, I managed to play at the NCAA, with the best facilities and training environment.”
“C.T. is like a brother to me.” Lin shared the unforgettable experience with Pan at 2019 Presidents Cup, when Lin competed for International Team at the Junior Presidents Cup, and Pan got into the Presidents Cup as the first Chinese Taipei player representing the International Team. “It was both our first time.”
The juniors didn't take everything for granted. They congratulated Pan on making the Chinese Taipei Olympic team for the second time at the C.T. Pan Junior Championship in July, 2021. A month later, Pan survived from a seven-way playoff winning the Chinese Taipei's first ever bronze medal in Olympics men's golf competition.
Dating back to Pan’s first PGA TOUR win at RBC Heritage in 2019, it was also the same week that the first C.T. Pan Junior Championship was held in Kingswood. He admitted that he felt a little bit lonely because his wife, Michelle, was in Houston for his first AJGA tournament, but he knew they were doing the right thing.
"To me it’s like the golf gods were telling me you’re doing the right thing. Hey, this is your reward, winning the PGA TOUR tournament. That’s really cool."
Pan has not stopped doing the right thing. Bringing about 10 kids from Chinese Taipei to compete at AJGA events every year since 2019, besides the 2020 event that was canceled due to the pandemic, Pan increased the number to 12 this year, including six boys and six girls. “I want them to come to the United States to experience the best tournament and TOUR-standard courses, and help them succeed in the future.”
Not only did Pan bring kids over from Chinese Taipei to compete, but he also held a private training camp outside of the tournament for them. Pan and Michelle took care of the kids every day during the camp and gave them chances to play more golf with him. “I tried to create a safe and comfortable place for them to talk to me. I just want to help them as much as I can.”
Pan's contributions to the AJGA over the past few years are just the beginning. After previous success from original tournaments, Pan made good on his promise to host two AJGA tournaments in 2022 instead of the usual one. “We want the kids to have more opportunities to play in the summer.” Pan tried his best to build their platform, “If they are good enough, they can play two events this summer and I think that’s something they want and something the college coaches want to see – more consistent scoring.”
The C.T. Pan Foundation Championship will be his second AJGA tournament this summer in Beaumont, California, July 25 – 28.