SINGAPORE - Like many Singaporeans sitting for the 'O' Levels this year, Brandon Han has little time for the things he enjoys doing most - in his case, playing football and golf.
While the camaraderie found in the former is appealing, the solitude of golf gives him something more.
"I gave up football because I love golf more. I love the feeling of winning and proving people wrong when no one expects you to," said the 16-year-old.
"There have been more constraints on my time this year so instead of quantity practice I've tried to do quality practice, like focusing on putting drills."
His dedication has reaped handsome dividends. He won the National Schools B Division individual championship in April and also emerged as the top performer in the 2018 Community Youth Golf League on Thursday (Sept 6), bagging the Tay Cheng Khoon Eagle award that takes its name from the late former Straits Times sports editor who founded the Youth Golf Programme (YGP).
Winners of the award are also recognised for displaying a good attitude, progress and commitment to the sport.
The St. Gabriel's Secondary student missed the first of the competition's four legs in March owing to other commitments but won the next three legs at a canter with gross scores of 71, 69 and 74 respectively. The next best performer Nicholas Jordan Sea of St Patrick's School averaged a gross score of 79.5.
"My next goal is to represent Singapore at the international level, at the SEA Games and World Amateur Team Championships," said Brandon, who is a scratch handicapper and is in the national development squad, the feeder to the senior team.
The YGP was started in 1997 to introduce youngsters without the means to own golf club memberships to the sport and has benefited close to 5,000 students since its inception. Its alumni include SEA Games gold medallist Joshua Shou and Jesse Yap, both of whom turned pro this year.
Next year, the YGP is introducing a new quarterly competition for players with a handicap of 20 or lower.
Said YGP chairman Janice Khoo: "This is to instil more competitiveness and get them more used to a competition environment, which is what the programme is meant to do.
"You want to see those who would not have been able to enjoy the game otherwise have a chance to excel and maybe even make a living out of it in future."