SINGAPORE - Golfer Hailey Loh had to settle for the runner-up spot at the 74th Singapore Open Amateur Championship on Friday (July 22), but the 19-year-old believes she is heading in the right direction as she targets a medal at next year's SEA Games in Cambodia.
The Singaporean finished second in the women's competition at the Tanah Merah Country Club with a five-over 293 total, behind Malaysia's Mirabel Ting who was 16 shots ahead.
Third place went to Filipina players Mikhaela Fortuna and Sofia Chabon, who both finished with a 297 total.
Loh had won the title last year, when the field featured mainly local players as a result of the pandemic.
She was undone by her opening-round two-over 74 and final-day 78, as Ting tamed the Tampines Course and returned sub-par rounds throughout the four-day tournament.
Despite relinquishing her title, Loh felt the competition went well for her.
She said: "I didn't do too well on the first and last day, but in between I shot a one and two-under, which was good considering how tough the pins were. Overall, I would say it was OK."
Loh congratulated her Malaysian rival Ting, saying she deserved the title, and is already looking ahead.
She will next compete in the Aug 15-18 Singapore National Amateur Championship and then travel to Paris for the Aug 24-27 World Amateur Team Championships.
Following these competitions, she will head to the United States, where she competes in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I for the California Baptist University (CBU). Loh said her time at CBU has aided her golf development.
"My game is definitely going in the right direction," she said.
"I'm definitely hitting a bit longer, which is great, my putting has improved too... everything all around, has improved a little."
She hopes this improvement can culminate in a medal at the May 5-17 SEA Games in Cambodia next year, after disappointment at the last edition of the regional multi-sport meet.
In Hanoi two months ago, Loh and partner Aloysa Atienza had lost the team bronze medal match to their Philippine opponents after a play-off.
"We came very, very close and it slipped out of our hands," said Loh. "So I'm really looking forward to the 2023 SEA Games and hopefully I can... (do one better)."
In the men's competition, India's Yash Majmudar emerged as champion after a dramatic three-way play-off with Hanoi SEA Games bronze medallist Weerawish Narkprachar of Thailand and Isaac Lam of Hong Kong.
Majmudar held a two-shot lead heading into the final hole but made a double bogey to enter a sudden-death play-off with all three players scoring a three-over 291 total. The Indian eventually made par to win the tournament.
"It feels really good to win in a field with the best players from around the region," he said. "It feels great to pull it off."