Confidence on greens boosts Ong's hopes

Philippine and Malaysian titles put him in good stead for Games

AN INCREASED focus on his short game paid off for Singapore golfer Marc Ong, as he clinched the 113th Malaysian Amateur Open Golf Championship yesterday at the Sarawak Golf Club.

The 19-year-old was in fine form, leading from wire to wire after posting a four-under 68 in round one on Thursday.

He carded 70 and 69 in the next two rounds before another 68 on the final day to secure victory by five shots over Australia's Harrison Endycott (280).

The win follows his triumph at the Philippine Amateur Open Matchplay last month.

Ong is also part of the team who will compete at the June 5-16 SEA Games next month, and said the victories are a timely boost ahead of the biennial meet.

He told The Straits Times: "I've been working a lot on my chipping and putting in training, making some adjustments to suit certain greens, so I came into this tournament with more confidence in my game.

"It's a good morale booster, but it also means other countries will be paying attention to us. Hopefully it'll work out well at the SEA Games."

Team-mate Johnson Poh, who won an individual and team silver at the 2009 Games, finished tied for ninth (292), while Abdul Hadi Uda Thith placed 30th (299).

There is no rest for the golfers, who left Sarawak for Kuala Lumpur right after the tournament yesterday.

There, they will play in the Saujana Amateur Championship at the Saujana Golf and Country Club, which starts tomorrow and ends on Thursday.

After their Malaysian adventure, the trio will return to Singapore, where they will resume training at the SEA Games golf competition venue, Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course.

Four golds are at stake at the Games - the men's and women's teams and individual titles. Singapore's best result is a gold, a silver and a bronze in 1989.

Buoyed by the team's good showing, Ong hopes they can leverage on home-ground advantage and at least match the two silvers won in both the 1991 and 2009 editions. He said: "We hope to do well at the SEA Games. Our team look good, and everyone seems to be in decent form. It's a big year for us and it'll be nice to bring back a good result."