How to Overcome Having 15 Clubs in the Bag

Micah Lauren Shin won last week's Manila Masters despite a two-shot penalty for having 15 clubs in his bag. (Photo: Asian Tour)
Asian Tour champion Micah Lauren Shin deserves your respect. 

Teeing off with 15 clubs in your bag seems like a rookie error so maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised it happened to Shin - an American in his first full season on the Asian Tour - at the Resorts World Manila Masters in The Philippines.

What you should be surprised about is that he brushed off the setback and two-shot penalty that came with it to become the youngest first-time Asian Tour winner in 2017.

The 20-year-old called a ruling on himself and was penalised two strokes on the first hole of the final round at Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club for having one too many clubs in his bag.

“I wanted my caddy to get the hybrid fitted at the range before my round but my caddy forgot to do it,” Shin said afterward. 

“I kept practising and relied on my caddy too much. I teed off and was walking to my second shot and my caddy asked me what I wanted to do with the rescue wood and it was then that I realised I had too many clubs in my bag.”

Micah Lauren Shin after his Manila Masters win. (Photo: Asian Tour)

So did the 20-year-old spit the dummy so to speak?

Did he channel his inner Terry Pilkadaris and hurl a club into a nearby clump of bushes?

No, he didn’t. Although in fairness to 44-year-old Pilkadaris, his aggressive putter throw occurred in the first round of the India Open with almost no immediate crowd to speak of.

A similar outburst was not really possible for Shin whose behaviour would have been dictated by the presence of galleries.

But consider Pilkadaris’ age. 

Consider a 43-year-old Ian Woosnam struggling to come to terms with his own penalty for having too many clubs in the bag while - so it seemed - he was tied for the lead in the final round of the 2001 Open Championship.

Both incidents show, undeniably, that golf is an emotional game. 

But they also speak volumes of the degree of mental strength that Shin has and did display at such a young age to eventually prevail in Manila in a playoff.

Shin began the final round one shot off the pace on a log-jammed leaderboard.

The resulting double bogey at the par-four first was followed with a drop shot at the third, leaving him three over on the round and seemingly in no position to mount a serious challenge.

Not so fast.

Shin rattled off eight birdies against no bogeys in his closing 15 holes - including three birdies in the final four holes - to get himself into a playoff with Thailand’s Arnond Vongvanij and won with a birdie at the first extra hole.

He’s the ninth first-time winner on the Asian Tour in 2017 and arguably the most noteworthy given the circumstances.

“This victory is everything to me and it feels so good. Earlier it felt like a big hole in my chest but right now I'm [relieved].”

The victory has propelled Shin to 14th position on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit.

It also arms him with a wealth of confidence ahead of next week’s US$2 million European Tour co-sanctioned UBS Hong Kong Open at the Hong Kong Golf Club.

Micah Lauren Shin may not make it back-to-back titles but he shapes as a player to watch with great interest in the coming months and years.

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