By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Pan, Lee set to compete at U.S. Open
There’s a lot of pressure in your last quarter of college. It’s filled with anxiety and pressure. University of Washington senior, and men’s golfer, Cheng-Tsung Pan had a lot of both as he tried to qualify for the U.S. Open Golf Tournament. Like cramming for a final and pulling it off, Pan made the field at Chambers Bay in University Place by making key shots down the stretch of his qualifying round.
Making it in is a great accomplishment and serves as consolation for falling one shot short in the NCAA Championships last month. Pan holds the UW men’s golf record with seven career victories and was the No. 1 Amateur in the World for eight weeks. It’s been a big couple of months for Pan as he graduated this month with a degree in communications from the University of Washington. The degree is a grand achievement for Pan considering he did not know how to speak English when he came to the United States from Taiwan to learn golf as a 15-year-old.
In addition to Pan, former UW Husky Richard Lee will be among the 156 competitors at Chambers Bay. A native of Bellevue, Lee’s ascension to the PGA tour is an interesting one. Unlike Tiger Woods, who was a child prodigy having been introduced to the sport of golf before the age of two, Lee first picked up golf when he took lessons at Willow’s Run Golf Course in Redmond at the age of 14. Lee immediately fell in love with the sport and played at municipal golf courses around the Seattle area. Lee, who attended Newport High School in Bellevue, met a professional golfer on the Asian tour while his family was on vacation in the Philippines. He decided to move to the Philippines to learn the sport. Lee came back home and attended Bellevue College where he was on its golf team. He transferred to the University of Washington to play golf for the Huskies.
Lee, who is Korean American, lived in Korea from ages three to 10.
The U.S. Open will be Lee’s first tournament in nine months as he is coming back from a thumb injury.
We wish low scores for both Pan and Lee.
Japan seeking to defend World Cup title
Although not as advertised as the men’s version, FIFA’s Women’s World Cup began play this month at multiple sites throughout Canada. Of course, FIFA, the governing body for the World Cup is going through a scandal as the U.S. Department of Justice arrested seven officials from FIFA on bribery and corruption charges.
As you recall, the Japan women’s team won the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in an upset of the United States. Team Japan is back and this time they are considered favorites to return as reigning champions.
So far, Japan is easily into the second round of the tournament having won its grouping, and will advance to the second round.
Japan boasts the oldest player in the World Cup, Homare Sawa. She was the captain of the 2011 national team and scored a goal in the championship game against the United States. The 36-year-old Sawa is appearing in a record sixth World Cup. She initially retired from the Japanese national team at the London Olympics in 2012 (where Japan won the silver medal) but returned to play in the 2014 Asian Games. In addition to Sawa, Japan’s roster also includes Nahomi Kawasumi. The 29-year-old played for the Seattle Reign FC last year.
There are four Asian countries competing in the women’s world cup. China, South Korea and Thailand are also in the tournament. Technically, Australia is considered an Asian country for purposes of grouping but we do not preview the Aussies here.
Notably, Chinese manager Hao Wei was ejected in a World Cup soccer match against New Zealand. Hao attempted to interfere with a throw-in from the sidelines by a New Zealand player. China needed just a tie to advance in the tournament. It was tied 2-2 at the time Hao was sent off the field with just a couple minutes left in extra play. Hao attempted to either appeal to the crowd that he was sorry or that he did nothing wrong. After the match, which ended in a tie, the coach for New Zealand refused to shake Hao’s hand for the alleged attempt to stall the game.
South Korea is an up-and-coming team that will probably not be a contender to win the World Cup this year but should be soon. The team is defensive minded and are led on the offense by Park Eun-Sun and Ji So-yun. South Korea must win its last group game against Spain to advance to the next round.
Thailand is playing it their first-ever World Cup. The bid came after FIFA expanded the number of Asian teams to play in the World Cup from three to five. In 2011, FIFA banned North Korea from World Cup play after five of its players tested positive for steroids. North Korea will be able to return to World Cup play in 2019. Thus, the pool of qualified Asian teams dwindled. Thailand earned the spot to play in Canada after defeating Vietnam 2-1 in Ho Chi Minh City. Ominously, the “War Elephants,” the team’s nickname, were defeated by China (7-0) and South Korea (4-0). Although Thailand may not make it past group play in the World Cup, its appearance should aid the popularity of the sport in the country.
Aside from Japan, favorites to win the Womens’ World Cup include Germany, Brazil and the United States. (end)
Jason Cruz can be reached at email@example.com.