Poh finds pro success in six months

Johnson Poh with the trophy after winning the Yinli-HKPGA Honorary President Invitational in Shenzhen on Friday.
Johnson Poh with the trophy after winning the Yinli-HKPGA Honorary President Invitational in Shenzhen on Friday.PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHNSON POH

Singaporean golfer Johnson Poh served notice of his blossoming talent with his first victory as a professional on Friday, less than six months after joining the paid ranks.

The 23-year-old overcame a five-shot deficit to capture the HK$330,000 (S$60,500) Yinli-HKPGA Honorary President Invitational in Shenzhen, China.

He closed with a five-under 67 for a three-day total of 210 to finish three strokes clear of Chinese Taipei's Yu Song-yi (68) at the Yinli Foreign Investors Golf Club.

It was the best 18 holes of his life, said Poh, a multiple SEA Games medallist and regarded as one of the Republic's most promising amateurs before he turned pro in June.

"I'm very happy to be able to make the breakthrough this quick as many others who have turned pro have yet to win overseas.

QUICK BREAKTHROUGH

I'm very happy to be able to make the breakthrough this quick as many others who have turned pro have yet to win overseas.

JOHNSON POH , Singaporean golfer

"I was calm and composed.

"I had the feel for every shot and was positive throughout the entire round," he said.

After a birdie and a bogey on his front nine, Poh found his rhythm on the inward stretch.

He birdied four of the next five holes starting from the 10th and saved his best for the 420m par-four 17th with a chip-in birdie from 10m.

Such was his concentration that even with a two-stroke lead as he walked to the final tee-box, Poh was not thinking about the winner's cheque but his scorecard.

"I checked it a few times to make sure I didn't make any mistakes on it or I could be disqualified," he said with a chuckle.

His maiden victory in a 48-man field that included Taiwanese veteran duo Lu Wen-teh and Lin Keng-chi, both multiple winners on the Asian Tour, was worth HK$45,000 (S$8,247).

It is more than double the US$2,831 he has earned in four starts on the Asean PGA Tour.

His father Ah Hai and uncles Benson and Jimmy were in the clubhouse, having completed their round in the seniors division, and were stunned when a beaming Poh returned with the good news.

They later went for a sumptuous dinner to celebrate as Poh wanted to treat his family but the manager of the golf club insisted on footing the bill.

"He said it's my first win so I should save my money," explained Poh with a laugh.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 08, 2015, with the headline 'Poh finds pro success in six months'. Print Edition | Subscribe