Golf: Singapore team count on 'home ground advantage' ahead of the WAGC World Finals

From left: Ricky Huang, Teo Hock Guan, Samir Bedi, Patrick Low and Ong Siew Yong will be representing Singapore in the World Amateur Golfers Championship World Finals across the Causeway this week.
From left: Ricky Huang, Teo Hock Guan, Samir Bedi, Patrick Low and Ong Siew Yong will be representing Singapore in the World Amateur Golfers Championship World Finals across the Causeway this week.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Familiarity with the courses in Johor will give Team Singapore an edge in the WAGC Finals

Like many golfing enthusiasts in Singapore, Ong Siew Yong packed his golf clubs into his car boot yesterday and braved the weekend jam to get into Johor Baru.

But, unlike social golfers who partake in leisurely rounds of golf on the Malaysian state of Johor's several golf courses, the 54-year-old Ong and his teammates will be hard at work, practising and comparing notes with one another.

The project services manager of an oil and gas engineering company is part of a five-man Singapore team taking part in the Oct 20-28 World Amateur Golfers Championship (WAGC) World Finals.

He will represent the Republic in Division E (handicap 20.5-25). The other members in the team are Samir Bedi (Div A, 0-5.4), Teo Hock Guan (Div B, 5.5-10.4), Ricky Huang (Div C, 10.5-15.4) and Patrick Low (Div D, 15.5-20.4).

The tournament will be played over four days on four courses across Johor - Forest City Golf Resort, Horizon Hills Golf & Country Club, Palm Resort Golf & Country Club and The Els Club. Singapore were crowned champions in Durban, South Africa, in 2016.

Ong, who also featured in the Finals last year with Samir, believes that the Singapore team, supported by sportswear brand Under Armour, have "home ground advantage" because of their familiarity with some of the four courses.

"I play at the Palm Resort at least twice a month, and feel that I will have an advantage over, say, the Europeans in terms of knowledge of the course and the weather," he said.

"Horizon is a bit trickier because of the water hazards and, while I haven't played at Forest City, I heard it's quite an open course, so it shouldn't be a problem."

Debutant Teo, a 60-year-old construction contractor, drove up to Forest City on Thursday to familiarise himself with a course he hadn't played on before.

He said: "I purposely went there with a friend to try it out; it is quite new and straightforward... but, in golf, every day is a different game, you can play on the same course but the result will not be the same."

Despite his familiarity with the competition courses, Ong said that the key to doing well is to remain calm during the tournament.

He added: "Samir and I played last year and will be more composed this year, since we know what to expect. I will try to play my normal game and play to my handicap.

"Last year, I was not composed and tried to push myself. Golf is like that - when you want to go further than usual, you tend to make mistakes."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 21, 2018, with the headline 'Counting on 'home ground advantage''. Print Edition | Subscribe