Going into the home stretch with lead

Singapore's Gregory Foo chipping from the greenside bunker to within a foot of Hole No. 12 at the Tanah Merah Country Club's Garden Course. He birdied that par-four hole.
Singapore's Gregory Foo chipping from the greenside bunker to within a foot of Hole No. 12 at the Tanah Merah Country Club's Garden Course. He birdied that par-four hole.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

S'pore's bid to win the Putra Cup for the first time since 2011 boosted by five-stroke edge

The Singapore quartet began the Putra Cup this week believing they were "the ones to beat", but before a single shot had been driven off the tee, all they could cite as grounds for their self-belief was home advantage.

With just 18 holes to go before the South-east Asian amateur team championship is decided today, however, the golfers' quiet confidence is now boldly backed up by a five-shot lead over favourites Thailand.

The hosts' combined score of 11-under 619 (best three scores) after three rounds at the Tanah Merah Country Club's Garden Course means they extended their lead over the two-time defending champions by four more strokes yesterday. Malaysia are third with 639.

Top local amateur Gregory Foo continues to lead the charge and stayed favourite to retain the individual title, breaking par for the third straight day when he signed for a one-under 69.

Despite decent drives, he endured a frustrating front nine and made his first birdie of the day only on the par-three 11th hole. When he did, even flight-mate Kammalas Namuangruk (70) of Thailand quipped that it had "finally" come.

Foo immediately followed up with another on the par-four 12th, chipping from the greenside bunker to within a foot for a tap-in.

Singapore's comfortable position on top of the standings is welcome news, but not a surprise for Foo.

  • LEADER BOARD (3RD ROUND)

  • PUTRA CUP
    (Men; best three scores)

    619 Singapore

    624 Thailand

    639 Malaysia

  • SANTI CUP
    (Women; best two)

    419 Thailand

    429 Philippines

    433 Singapore

  • LION CITY CUP
    (Under-16 men; best two)

    413 Thailand

    429 Philippines

    431 Indonesia

  • KARTINI CUP
    (Under-16 women; best two)

    433 Thailand

    439 Malaysia

    444 Philippines

Said the 23-year-old: "Coming into the tournament, I felt we were playing well and we were confident. The mentality doesn't change going into tomorrow. There isn't any added pressure. We have the same mindset, to just focus on our own game and that will take care of the team."

In each round, the top three individual scores are taken into consideration for the team event.

Team-mate Marc Ong carded a 68, but rued an imperfect finish when a bogey on the 18th stood in the way of a blemish-free round.

His approach shot that became a one-hop eagle on the 15th, however, was one to savour.

Said Ong, who turns 21 in November: "It's probably one of the better rounds I've ever played. I really hung in there very well and didn't give myself any tough putts. It's a really good day to look back on."

Even then, neither Ong nor Foo was Singapore's best performer yesterday. Joshua Ho, with a 67, claimed that bragging right.

After two earlier rounds of 70 and 72 and another sluggish start yesterday, his patience was finally rewarded. He reached the turn at one over but collected four birdies on the back nine.

Said Ho: "To get four shots on the back nine, it's quite big going into tomorrow. It's a lot about momentum, especially since this is a team event. Once you see people (dropping) putts, you get pumped up and you want to join in. I'm definitely feeling good and looking forward to tomorrow. I think we have a good chance to win."

Singapore last won this title in 2011.

National coach Andrew Welsford acknowledged that a five-shot lead can be quickly overturned in a team event, but said the team will bank on the same faith they have had in themselves all week.

He said: "We talked at the beginning of the week that we want to be in front on day one, day two, day three and day four. We've got one more day to go. Everyone's feeling really confident."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2016, with the headline 'Going into the home stretch with lead'. Print Edition | Subscribe