Ahlers ends long wait for Asian Tour success at Taiwan Masters

South African beats India’s Chikkarangappa S. by two shots as Dubai Golden visa awardees Gagunjeet Bhullar and Jeev Milkha Singh finish tied 5th and 16th respectively

By Team KT

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Jaco Ahlers (RSA) winner of the Mercuries Taiwan Masters on the Asian Tour. - Supplied photo
Jaco Ahlers (RSA) winner of the Mercuries Taiwan Masters on the Asian Tour. - Supplied photo

Published: Sun 1 Oct 2023, 11:51 PM

South African Jaco Ahlers won a war of attrition at the Taiwan Golf and Country Club to win the 37th edition of the Mercuries Taiwan Masters on Sunday, finally clinching his first title on the Asian Tour.

The Country Club has proven to be one of the toughest golf courses this season, with brutal rough and tapering fairways.

Ahlers is a prolific winner of titles on the Sunshine Tour on home soil, with 11, including their Tour Championship in April, and finally got off the mark in Asia following a two-shot victory over India’s Chikkarangappa S. in the $1 million event, which is Chinese-Taipei’s richest tournament.

A player who says he enjoys more demanding courses, Ahlers proved that with a closing three under-par 69 to finish on four-under – the highest winning score of the year.

‘Chikka’, the joint overnight leader with Korean Taehee Lee, carded a 74.

Chikkarangappa S. of India watches his shot. - AFP
Chikkarangappa S. of India watches his shot. - AFP

Australian Travis Smyth (69) and David Drysdale from Scotland (71), tied for third, an additional shot back.

Lee (76), Dubai Golden VISA Awardee Gaganjeet Bhullar (India) (71) and Chang Wei-lun from Chinese-Taipei (71), were equal fifth, on even par.

Only four players beat par at the end of the week.

Ahlers, three off the lead at the start of the round and playing in the third from last pairing with his brother Hein on the bag, made his move on the back nine with birdies on 12, 14 and 15 and could afford to drop a shot on 16, with his nearest challengers unable to close the gap.

Chikkarangappa had the best chance to catch him but the birdies dried up on the back nine and crucially he dropped shots on 13 and 16.

“It was tough,” said 40 year-old Ahlers, who becomes the first player from his country to win the event.

He has been knocking on the door in Asia for several seasons, including at the St. Andrews Bay Championship in August, where he tied for third.

Smyth’s fine finishing round completed two excellent weeks in Chinese-Taipei, as he was second last week in the Yeangder TPC, where he was defending champion.

The tournament also marked the best finish by Drysdale on the Asian Tour, since making it through Tour School in January.

“Difficult, lots of bogeys, lots of birdies. Just a difficult, difficult golf course, but really enjoyed the challenge this week,” said the former European Tour regular.

“A cross between Valderrama (Spain) and the US Open, it’s so easy to make mistakes at the Taiwan Golf and Country Club.

“I had a good finish today, like yesterday, so I am pleased with that. I have enjoyed these past two weeks in Taiwan, it has been very hot for a Scotsman, but all in all enjoyed both golf courses,” Drysdale added.

“I look forward to coming back hopefully in the future. Looking forward to next week in Singapore.”

Dubai Golden VISA Awardee Gagunjeet Bhullar from India had rounds of 72, 72, 73 and 71, to finish on level par 288 and tied fifth.

He told Khaleej Times: “I played both this and last week. I hit it well but missed a few short putts.”

Jeev Milkha Singh, also from India, finished on three over par with rounds of 71, 73, 73 and 74, for tied 16th.

He told Khaleej Times, “I played solid all week, but I really need to work on my short game. I am playing in the PGA Senior Championship in Japan next week and then another tournament on the Japan Senior Tour.”

Next stop on the Asian Tour is next week’s International Series Singapore on the Tampines Course at Tanah Merah Country Club, from October 5th – 8th.


(6,923 Yards – Par 72)

J. Ahlers (RSA) 69. 74. 72. 69. 284.

S. Chikkangappa (Ind) 69. 72. 71. 74. 286.

T. Smyth (Aus) 71. 75. 72. 69. 287.

D. Drysdale (Scot) 70. 72. 74, 71. 287.

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