Golf: Singapore history made, Foo eyes glory in KL

Gregory Foo's Singapore Open Amateur Championship win comes with a coveted spot at next year's SMBC's Singapore Open.
Gregory Foo's Singapore Open Amateur Championship win comes with a coveted spot at next year's SMBC's Singapore Open.PHOTO: THARM SOOK WAI

Two-time Amateur champion views himself as gold-medal contender at the SEA Games

National golfer Gregory Foo rewrote the history books and delivered a warning to his SEA Games rivals yesterday - thanks to his runaway win at the Singapore Open Amateur Championship.

Not only did he became the first Singaporean to win the tournament twice - he was the 2015 winner - but he also topped a 106-strong field that included several Games-bound players like Thailand's Kosuke Hamamoto and Kammalas Namuangruk, and Malaysia's Ervin Chang and Galven Green.

Foo, 23, held a six-stroke lead over Chang going into yesterday's final round at the Singapore Island Country Club's New Course.

He had extended his advantage to seven shots through 10 holes before the tournament was halted due to inclement weather.

The round was eventually cancelled due to the rain and the first 54 holes were used instead. Foo finished on 12-under 204 (69, 66, 69), six clear of Chang. Hamamoto was a further shot behind.

Foo, who is 83rd in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, said: "We know we have a good chance of winning the individual gold, and this is a tangible result to back it up.

"I see myself as one of the gold-medal contenders.

"Things are shaping up well for the SEA Games. I've gained confidence in my game from this week and I need to keep building on it."

He also earns a coveted spot at next year's US$1 million (S$1.37 million) SMBC Singapore Open, an Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour co-sanctioned tournament at the Sentosa Golf Club.

The Thais have dominated men's golf at the biennial Games in recent years, capturing all eight individual and team titles at the past four editions while the Malaysians will be banking on home-ground advantage for next month's Koala Lumpur Games.

All eyes at The Mines Resort & Golf Club will be on Foo, who bagged last month's Vietnam Amateur Open, and then spent two weeks in England playing in The Amateur Championship and the European Amateur Championship, said Thai-Japanese Hamamoto.

"I can see that he is a better player now, and he has improved a lot on his mental game over the past few months."

The only Singaporean to win a Games gold in golf was Samson Gibson. He triumphed in 1989, coincidentally also in Kuala Lumpur. He also won the Amateur Championship, first organised in 1948, that same year.

While some athletes shun the spotlight and pressure that comes with being the favourite, Foo is not one of them.

He said: "I'm going to embrace it. It's cool when you walk into tournament room and people say watch out for that guy."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore history made, Foo eyes glory in KL'. Print Edition | Subscribe