Dream to represent Singapore suits Daryl, 12, to a tee

Daryl Low Meng Tiang with his prized golf bag emblazoned with a Singapore flag. The poster in his bedroom reflects his dream to tee off for the nation.
Daryl Low Meng Tiang with his prized golf bag emblazoned with a Singapore flag. The poster in his bedroom reflects his dream to tee off for the nation.PHOTO: HSBC/AREP KULAL
Daryl Low Meng Tiang with his prized golf bag emblazoned with a Singapore flag. The poster in his bedroom reflects his dream to tee off for the nation.
Daryl Low Meng Tiang with his prized golf bag emblazoned with a Singapore flag. The poster in his bedroom reflects his dream to tee off for the nation.PHOTO: DARYL LOW MENG TIANG

He's eyeing S'pore Sports School after PSLE to further drive ambition

Every morning, Daryl Low Meng Tiang, 12, wakes up to the sight of a handcrafted poster, picturing himself golfing for Singapore, hanging on his bedroom door - reminding him of his ultimate goal to win an Olympic medal in the sport.

The Primary 6 pupil at Compassvale Primary School is one of the nation's most promising young golfers. At 6.8, his handicap index is far better than that of most adult players, including his father.

Last year, he came in third in the individual category and was champion in the team category together with schoolmate Ethan Lim, 11, in the National (Primary) School Games Golf Championships.

His golfing dreams began at age six when, after just a few months of formal lessons, he took part in his first junior tournament organised by his academy. After the event, he asked his coach: "Why did all my friends have prizes but I got nothing?" The stark reply: "Because you did not play well enough."

WORK AND PLAY

I will do my homework in the afternoon after school. Once I'm done, I will train in the evening for a few hours. After dinner, I focus on revision or lighter subjects. To relax, I play the piano and guitar and have singalong sessions with my sisters.

DARYL LOW, on how he manages his time.

That spurred him to practise his driving, chipping and putting drills almost daily. Daryl won a silver medal in the next tournament organised by his golf school, and he has been honing his techniques ever since.

He is training for the 2017 championships in June and international tournaments such as the Singha Thailand Junior World Golf Championship and Kids Golf World Championship Malaysia in November and December respectively.

After his Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), Daryl hopes to enter the Singapore Sports School and claim a spot in the Singapore Golf Association junior squad and, eventually, the national team.

He aims to represent the nation in the 2018 Junior British Open.

Daryl's father discovered his son's talent when he took the boy to a golf driving range for one of his own practice sessions when Daryl just turned six.

"To my surprise, he could mimic my swing and the ball flew," said Mr Hans Low, 45, owner of a local furniture factory, who is married to Ms Gladys Ng, 40.

"I thought it was just pure luck and asked him to take a few more shots. Every shot he hit just took off," added Mr Low, who enrolled Daryl in a golf school.

Despite it being his PSLE year, Daryl continues to push himself, albeit cutting back on training from five to four days a week.

"I will do my homework in the afternoon after school. Once I'm done, I will train in the evening for a few hours. After dinner, I focus on revision or lighter subjects," he said. "To relax, I play the piano and guitar and have singalong sessions with my sisters." His sisters are aged five and eight.

In school, Daryl's friends sometimes ask him what he sees in the game. To them, golf is a "rich person's" activity for grown-ups.

While he concedes that it does take a lot of commitment and investment to master the game, he pointed to initiatives by the Singapore Golf Association that allow young people to try out the game for free and even sponsor the training of those who show promise.

Through taking part in regional tournaments, Daryl has befriended many junior golfers from Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and China.

"I learnt a lot from my overseas friends as we constantly keep in touch via social media and exchange ideas and even videos of golfing techniques.

"Keeping in touch with fellow young golfers in the region motivates me to train harder as I am more aware of how intense the competition is outside Singapore," he said.

At an HSBC Women's Championship clinic this month, Daryl mingled with golfers Minjee Lee from Australia and Amanda Tan from Singapore and got their advice on maintaining peak physical fitness.

Many are rallying behind Daryl's goal. His teachers monitor his studies and conduct extra lessons for him when he misses lessons due to tournaments.

Family friends chip in to provide customised golf gear that suits his age. Among his most cherished gifts is a personalised golf bag emblazoned with the Singapore flag to remind him of his aspiration to plant the Republic's name at the pinnacle of the sport.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2017, with the headline 'Dream to represent Singapore suits Daryl, 12, to a tee'. Print Edition | Subscribe