Golf: Gregory Foo plays key role as Asia-Pac edge out Europe

Singaporean golfer Gregory Foo helped Team Asia-Pacific beat Team Europe to win the Bonallack Trophy.
Singaporean golfer Gregory Foo helped Team Asia-Pacific beat Team Europe to win the Bonallack Trophy.ST PHOTO: THARM SOOK WAI

SINGAPORE - The Republic's top amateur golfer, Gregory Foo, has become the first Singaporean to be part of a victorious team at the prestigious Bonallack Trophy.

The 24-year-old earned 1.5 points for Team Asia-Pacific as they beat Team Europe 16.5-15.5 at the Doha Golf Club in Qatar on Saturday (March 10).

This is Asia-Pacific's first triumph since 2004 and third overall.

Held over three days, the amateur match-play competition established in 1998 is modelled after the Ryder Cup, and pits Europe against the Asia-Pacific every two years, with host courses alternating biennially between the two regions.

Team Asia-Pacific held a narrow 5.5-4.5 lead after the four-ball and foursomes matches on the first day, but trailed 9-11 after day two.

Foo, ranked No. 67 in the world amateur golf rankings, teamed up with Japan's Kazuya Osawa on Thursday and lost to Sweden's Oliver Gillberg and Spain's Angel Hidalgo Portillo 2&1 in the four-ball.

He bounced back to earn half a point with South Korea's Kim Dong Min in the four-ball match against Ireland's Robin Dawson and Germany's Marc Hammer, before partnering India's Rayhan Thomas to pip Finns Sami Valimaki and Matias Honkala 1-up in Friday's foursomes.

With the scores tied at 14.5 apiece, Foo - part of the men's gold-medal winning team at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games last August - battled hard in the singles on Saturday but lost to amateur world No. 8 Gillberg by one hole. However, England's Matthew Jordan missed a two-foot putt at the 18th against Osawa for the half-point Europe needed to retain the trophy as the scores were levelled again.

Filipino Lloyd Jefferson Go then eased past Frenchman Frederic Lacroix 3&2 to seal the victory.

Foo is the third Singaporean after Quincy Quek in 2008 and Jonathan Woo in 2010 to be picked for the Bonallack Trophy, although the 2010 edition was cancelled.

Foo made his debut in 2016, when Europe won 17.5-14.5. After this win, he has his sights set on an Asian Games gold medal in Indonesia in August.

"It was a fantastic week, a great team effort, and an honour to be able to contribute," said Foo.

"I went into every match with the belief I could beat anyone, especially in a matchplay format. I'm definitely aiming for gold at the Asian Games and hopefully we can send a team and win a team medal too."

Singapore Golf Association president Ross Tan said Foo's fine display is an encouragement for the nation's younger prospects.

He said: "Greg was drawn against the highest world-ranked European player (Gillberg) and the match went down to the last hole, which shows where his standard of golf is at now.

"Having a Singaporean play a role in this win gives us a lot of pride. It's a morale booster for the younger players in the (national) squad to step up their game."