Golf: Bonallack Trophy selection a reward for Gregory Foo's maturity

Gregory Foo has been selected to represent the Asia-Pacific team in the Bonallack Trophy in Portugal next month. He is the only South-east Asian golfer in the 12-man team.
Gregory Foo has been selected to represent the Asia-Pacific team in the Bonallack Trophy in Portugal next month. He is the only South-east Asian golfer in the 12-man team.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Gregory Foo is only the third S'pore amateur to be picked for a top-flight Asia-Pacific team

Missing out on the chance to represent Singapore at last year's SEA Games on home soil proved to be just the impetus that national golfer Gregory Foo needed.

It spurred him to train harder, sharpen his technique and strengthened his resilience.

The 22-year-old's form soared in the second half of 2015, as he picked up four titles, including the Singapore Open Amateur Championship and the Putra Cup (individual category) which culminated in his selection for next month's Bonallack Trophy as part of the Asia-Pacific squad.

The prestigious match-play tournament was started in 1998 and pits a collection of top amateurs from Europe against a team from this region. Some of the game's brightest stars like Rory McIlroy (world No. 3), Hideki Matsuyama (No. 12) and Danny Willett (No. 13) have competed in past editions. Europe lead the series 6-2.

The March 16-18 competition will be held at the Vidago Palace Golf Course in Portugal.

Said Foo, who is the third Singaporean after Quincy Quek in 2008 and Jonathan Woo in 2010 to earn a place at the biennial event: "It was a great honour to be chosen and hopefully I'll be able to contribute and win some points for the team."

GROWING IN CONFIDENCE

I was previously a bit one-dimensional but now I'm more confident of hitting different types of shots and understand my swing much better. 

GREGORY FOO , who will be a member of the team that takes on Europe's top amateurs.

The Nanyang Technological University sport science and management undergraduate has improved by more than 200 spots in the past 12 months and is currently 82nd in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

He is the only member in the 12-man team from South-east Asia and is the third-highest ranked after China's Cheng Jin (No. 16) and Chinese Taipei's Yu Chun-an (No. 47).

Said Foo, who averages 265m off the tee: "My game has definitely improved, especially my iron play. I was previously a bit one-dimensional but now I'm more confident of hitting different types of shots and understand my swing much better."

There is greater maturity in Foo's course management too, noted Jerome Ng, assistant to national coach Andrew Welsford.

Said Ng, a former national player: "Greg had all the shots but he was too hard on himself and wanted to be perfect in everything. He's learning that golf isn't like that but it's still important to score well even when you only have your B game out there."

The talent is obvious, added Welsford, who pointed to last October's Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Hong Kong where Foo fired an opening six-under 64.

"I was telling (Australia national coach) Dean Kinney to watch out for Greg and he said, 'I've heard about your boy. He's a good player.' So it's not just us who have noticed his potential."

While Foo is in no rush to turn professional, joining the paid ranks remains his long-term goal. He finished a creditable joint-29th at last month's Players Championship on the Asian Development Tour and that experience was invaluable.

He said: "I'm probably not ready to be a pro but it did give me the belief that I have what it takes to succeed. It's a tough grind and I'm fully aware of the sacrifices needed."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2016, with the headline 'Selection a reward for Foo's maturity'. Print Edition | Subscribe