Golf: 10 birdies lift Joshua Ho to Putra Cup lead

Joshua Ho at the Putra Cup 2017 after round one.
Joshua Ho at the Putra Cup 2017 after round one. PHOTO: SINGAPORE GOLF ASSOCIATION

Spree puts Games gold medallist atop Putra Cup leaderboard, team-mates also in top 10

He knew there would be low scores on day one of the Putra Cup, but Singapore's Joshua Ho still surprised everyone by mixing 10 birdies with two bogeys at the Gading Raya Padang Golf and Club in Jakarta yesterday.

The 23-year-old fired an eight-under 64 as he carved out a one-stroke lead over Thailand's Kosuke Hamamoto and Hein Sithu of Myanmar in the individual competition.

Ho, who birdied the fifth, seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 16th and 18th holes, said: "It's something I have never done before. My previous best was eight birdies in a round.

"This course gives up a lot of birds as it's not overly difficult. I knew there were going to be low scores so I had to stay aggressive and keep making birdies."

Ho, who was third in the Putra Cup individual competition last year, thought that the 6,420m course suited his strengths of shorter irons and wedges, and it allowed him to "stay aggressive". Conditions were perfect, other than a windier than average afternoon.

"It's not a long course and there are many birdie chances, although the rough around the green can be tricky," he added. "This (the shorter course) lets me continue taking one shot at a time and staying aggressive through the course."

All four Singaporean representatives, who were part of the SEA Games gold-medal winning squad last month, are in the top 10.

Marc Ong, who clinched the Games gold for Singapore on Aug 26 by virtue of his win over Hamamoto in the play-off, is tied fifth after a 67.

Last year's Putra Cup individual winner Gregory Foo (68) is joint sixth. Joshua Shou (69) is tied for ninth.

The Putra Cup is part of the annual South East Asia Amateur Golf Team Championship.

Singapore lead the six-team competition by two strokes. Thailand are second on 201 with Indonesia third on 207. The competition runs till Friday.

Thailand won the Cup at the Tanah Merah Country Club last year, with Singapore second.

Singapore coach Andrew Welsford said: "This has been a long process that has taken time; it's not an overnight thing.

"A lot of hard work has gone into getting our team this strong and creating a team that has such depth."

The 46-year-old also felt the SEA Games victory gave the team a confidence boost and they know they "can win and set our sights on doing just that".

Ho added: "We want to win. Last year, we were leading till the last day when Thailand overtook us. We want to take revenge this year.

"In order to do that, I must do well individually. However, our main focus is to win the team event."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2017, with the headline '10 birdies lift Ho to cup lead'. Print Edition | Subscribe