Hong Kong – Taiwan’s Lu Wei-chih seized the lead at the Hong Kong Open Thursday in an impressive return to form after he underwent brain surgery in 2012.
The 36-year-old shot a joint-top six under par round of 64, including three birdies, at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling – one of his best since the treatment to remove a non-malignant tumour.
Lu, who has three tournament wins to his name, revealed in an emotional press conference that he had once thought his career was over.
“For the first six months after the surgery, I pretty much gave up all my confidence and trust because I have no power and I didn’t think I can play golf anymore,” he said.
“So I had to rest over six months, and then finally, I started playing a little bit of the Taiwan Tour.”
However, he said he could barely make it round a course after the 14th or 15th hole as he struggled to rebuild his fitness.
His weight ballooned to 93kg and his doctor warned him it was only through exercise, nutrition and time that his condition would recover.
Even after he started playing again every week two years ago, he admitted, “I wasn’t quite sure how much longer I will last (as a golfer)”.
Slowly he managed to rediscover glimpses of his form and he returned to action in the second half of 2013, since taking part in seven tournaments and only missing one cut.
He said: “About a year after my surgery, I started talking to the Asian Tour and they gave me the opportunity to get back on the Tour and play some events. And finally, I started coming back mentally and physically.”
Lu credited his wife and in particular his 10-year-old son and five-year-old daughter for helping him on his way to recovery.
“They keep supporting me, and I just have to tell myself that I want to be a real golfer again and compete on the Tour,” he said.
Even with his weight now back down to 84kg, he cautioned he was not out of the woods.
“The doctor said after the surgery, there’s no quick fix; no pill that can really make the recovery much quicker,” he said.