Golf: It's a sawadee cup again

Thailand's Napong Sriparsit celebrating a birdie on the 18th hole on the final day of the Putra Cup yesterday. He carded a three-under 67 for his best round of the four-day tournament, finishing sixth overall in the individual standings.
Thailand's Napong Sriparsit celebrating a birdie on the 18th hole on the final day of the Putra Cup yesterday. He carded a three-under 67 for his best round of the four-day tournament, finishing sixth overall in the individual standings.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Thailand show their dominance by cutting S'pore's five-shot lead to win Putra Cup by three strokes

After trailing their Singapore counterparts for a third straight day at the Putra Cup on Thursday, the Thai golfers were rounded up for a meeting with their coach.

The message was clear: Show up for the final round aggressive in play and ready to chase down the five-shot lead held by the hosts.

With four holes left when rain halted play yesterday at the Tanah Merah Country Club's Garden Course, golfers were huddled together again.

Only this time, it was the Singapore team, away from the crowd after falling three shots adrift.

The mission: With only the team's best three scores considered, each player needed to pick up just one shot over their Thai flight-mates. A tie would hand the Republic the win on countback.

However, the lead did not change hands again. The Thais, who were already leading by two after the front nine, eventually lifted their third straight Putra Cup with a combined score of 828 after four rounds.

  • FINAL LEADER BOARD

    PUTRA CUP (Men; best three scores)

    828 Thailand

    831 Singapore

    852 Philippines

    SANTI CUP (Women; best two)

    553 Thailand

    566 Philippines

    583 Singapore

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

    551 Thailand

    571 Philippines

    575 Indonesia

    KARTINI CUP (Under-16 women; best two)

    571 Thailand

    587 Malaysia

    593 Philippines

Singapore were three strokes behind with 831, while the Philippines took third place with 852.

During that one-hour delay and through another weather hold-up that followed, the players tried to stay positive, but the tension in the air was palpable.

Said Marc Ong, who rued finding the water twice yesterday: "We were definitely still in it. We had two to four holes to go, and a lot of things could've happened. The Thais felt us coming as well."

Added Joshua Ho, who played his best round all week with a four-under 66: "We tried to keep our minds off it but it was so tough. A five-shot lead is not a lot in a team event, but we were really confident and have been preparing here quite a bit. It's definitely very disappointing."

Ho, 22, was the only Singaporean who broke par yesterday. Gregory Foo relinquished his overnight lead in the individual event early on, carding a 72, while Ong and Joshua Shou both signed for a 74.

Foo, who was last year's individual champion, eventually finished fourth, four shots behind Thai Kammalas Namuangruk (273).

Filipino Ruperto Zaragosa III carded a 67 yesterday to finish second (274) while Ho was third (275).

It was a round to forget for Foo, who bogeyed the par-four seventh and par-three 16th. But the one shot he really wanted to put behind him yesterday was a shank on the 13th that led to a double bogey.

He said: "It was a terrible shot and very costly. We could've been a little closer if that didn't happen."

By then, Foo knew he had blown his chances in the individual event, but never gave up trying to help Singapore lift their first Putra Cup since 2011, dropping a birdie on the 18th green.

A slow start yesterday, coupled with hot pursuit from their Thai rivals, meant the Singaporeans were nervous early on.

Said national coach Andrew Welsford: "Some of us maybe started to worry about what everyone else was doing, as opposed to just worrying about what we can do.

"No discredit to the way Thailand played beautiful golf. They threw it at us on the last day."

Apart from Ong, the team will next head to Mexico for the World Amateurs Team Championship from Sept 21-24.

Said Welsford: "This will be a bit of a bitter pill to swallow. But that's OK because we learn from our mistakes and we keep moving forward.

"We'll take all the positives from this week and move that energy towards the World Amateurs."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2016, with the headline 'It's a sawadee cup again'. Print Edition | Subscribe