SEA Games: Marc Ong settles for individual golf silver after losing by a stroke

Singapore golfer Marc Ong in action at the South-east Asian Amateur Golf Team Championship at Tanah Merah Country Club’s Garden course on Sept 6, 2016.
Singapore golfer Marc Ong in action at the South-east Asian Amateur Golf Team Championship at Tanah Merah Country Club’s Garden course on Sept 6, 2016. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Marc Ong had to settle for silver after coming agonisingly close to ending Singapore's 28-year wait for a golf gold at the SEA Games on Thursday (Aug 24).

The 21-year-old carded a 69 to finish one stroke behind winner Thai-Japanese Kosuke Hamamoto (68) for a nine-under 204 total after three rounds at the par-71 The Mines Resort and Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur.

The last time Singapore claimed the golf gold medal at the biennial meet was in 1989, when Samson Gimson won the individual title at the Games also held in KL.

This is the second consecutive Games that Singapore has fallen just short of gold. In 2015, Johnson Poh lost to another Thai, Natipong Srithong, in a play-off at the Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong course.

Ong, his team-mate Gregory Foo, 23, and Hamamoto had shared the overnight lead going into the third and final round on seven-under 135.

At the 14th hole, Ong sank a birdie to hold a two-shot lead while Foo fell behind SEA Games debutant Hamamoto by a stroke.

But Ong's lead disappeared over the next two holes.

The 18-year-old Chiang Mai-born Thai birdied the next hole to cut the deficit to Ong to one.

At the 16th, Hamamoto chipped in from deep rough to make a difficult birdie but the Singaporean bogeyed the hole to drop one behind.

It was a rough day for Foo, who had led the 40-player field by one stroke at the turn. But he eventually signed for a 70 to total seven-under 206 and finished tied-fourth.

Hamamoto's win maintained Thailand's dominance in the sport. The kingdom has swept the men's individual and team medals at the past four editions of the SEA Games.

The team event, played in a match-play format, will be held over the next two days.

At the last SEA Games, Singapore won two silvers and two bronzes in golf.