TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The disc golfing community received a bit of a shock earlier this month when a little-known player from New Taipei City emerged triumphant at the 2020 Asia Open in Kaohsiung, marking the first time a Taiwanese has taken home the purse since the tournament was first held.
While the sport of disc golf is not exactly a household name in Asia, it is growing by leaps and bounds. Last February, Singapore hosted its first tournament to be sponsored by the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA), the Singapore Sling, and across the causeway, Malaysia's inaugural PDGA Tour event Attack of the Chains took place in the state of Johor shortly after.
Occurring on a near biannual basis since 2009, this year's edition of the Asia Open was organized by Mac Hsiao of the Taiwan Disc Golf Association. More than 60 of the world's top disc golfers descended upon Kaohsiung on Feb. 8-9 to test their mettle in the sprawling Metropolitan Park.
Jacky Chen. (Stanny Lee photo)
After a riveting 72 "holes," however, 22-year-old Jacky Chen pulled off an upset, edging out American pro Nate Perkins by a single throw and besting Americans Philo Brathwaite and James Conrad as well as Japanese veteran Manabu Kajiyama, who had dominated both the 2017 and 2015 Opens.
In an interview with Taiwan News, Chen spoke about his approach to the sport and offered advice to would-be disc golfers looking to start out.
Taiwan News (TN): How did you first become interested in disc golf?
My first brush with golf was when I was five or six years old. At first, I just walked around the park with mom and dad. I really started playing this sport when I was 19 years old because it was fun for a group of people to play and chat together in the park.
TN: Had you participated in a major competition before?
No, I have been to Japan to participate in the 30th National Championship and events in Daegu, South Korea, and Taiwan, but neither of them were as big.
TN: There are not many disc golf courses in Taiwan. How did you reach this level of playing?
I often watch videos of professional players on YouTube and study their disc-throwing technique. The most important thing is to keep learning from the results of each regularly monthly competition and to continue to grow.
TN: What was the most exciting moment of the tournament for you?
I think it was the moment when everyone was cheering for me!
TN: With this victory under your belt, what is your next goal?
I'd like to go to the U.S. for a higher level match.
TN: Which areas of your game do you think you need to improve on the most?
I think it is my mindset. Sometimes it is affected by emotions, and this can affect my accuracy.
TN: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start playing disc golf?
I believe that with any sport, you must start with the basics, and you can definitely improve step by step. I also hope that more people will start to play this sport.
(Stanny Lee photos)