Singaporean Zachary Ong achieved a personal milestone en route to finishing second in the boys' 12-13 division of the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships - he shot a bogey-free round in a tournament for the first time.
The 12-year-old carded a seven-under 65 at the Champion course at the PGA National Resort & Spa in Florida yesterday after making seven birdies. His seven-under 209 total saw him finish behind Texas resident Gaven Lane (208) and ahead of Walker Jennings (213), who lives in South Carolina.
Gaven shot 66 yesterday to top the 93-strong field, while Walker closed with a 68.
Revealing that he was "fairly confident" as he had gotten used to the course after posting 72 in each of his first two rounds, Zachary added: "Golf is a game of imperfection, I will need to improve on many areas technique-wise but I think the most important for me is to learn to play my best with what I have on that day."
Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox
His father Ee-Ping told The Straits Times yesterday: "The progress he made in this tournament is less about how he ranked, but his ability and mental capacity in shooting a low, bogey-free round."
More than 600 golfers compete at the championships annually, with more than 5,000 qualifiers vying for a spot in the tournament.
The 43-year-old Ong said a better idea of his son's potential will be formed when he gets older.
"As parents, we are trying to help him in putting together the fundamental building blocks for him to be a complete golfer and person - grit, focus, critical thinking, learning abilities," said Ong, who works with a US-based investment fund. The family are based in Scarsdale, New York.
Notable past participants of the championships include 14-time Major winner Tiger Woods and women's world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn, who won the girls' 10-11 and 12-13 categories in 2007 and 2008.
In 2009, Singaporean Kok Jo Ee was third in the girls' 14-15 category. She was offered a four-year full golf scholarship by the University of California, Berkeley the following year.
The Singapore Golf Association's (SGA) high performance manager Jerome Ng believes Zachary's performance bodes well for the future.
"(Zachary) still has plenty of years and the next four to five will be crucial for him," he said.
Ong hopes Zachary's performance will provide a chance for growth in the local junior golf scene.
"Our hope is that the golfing community in Singapore will continue to be supportive of junior golf development and in giving our juniors a chance to interact and compete with the best regionally and internationally," he said.