Golf: Lean and mean, Choo sheds 16kg and is first-round leader at S'pore Pro Series Invitational

Choo Tze Huang is reaping the rewards as he feels stronger and more confident. PHOTO: SPORTFIVE

SINGAPORE - With the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc and disrupting global sports scheduling, many professional athletes have been struggling to make ends meet.

But Choo Tze Huang opted to remain positive and proactive. While practising six times a week, the 1.81m golfer also engaged a trainer and embarked on a fitness regimen since June that has seen him lose 16 kg to tip the scales at a leaner 88kg.

The 34-year-old is reaping the rewards as he feels stronger and more confident, and these attributes were evident on the fairways as he took the first-round lead in the first leg of the Singapore Pro Series Invitational presented by Fintech Alliance Global (FTAG) on Wednesday (March 24).

After carding four birdies against two bogeys for a two-under 69 at Sentosa Golf Club's (SGC) Serapong Course, he told The Straits Times: "It's been a struggle during the pandemic because as pros, golf is our livelihood, and we couldn't travel to play tournaments; my last international event was the Malaysian Open last March.

"But I still wanted to improve as a golfer, and so I committed to the fitness programme, watched what I ate and losing the excess fats has helped me make changes to my swing as I became more flexible.

"It feels good to have played well overall today. There were nerves because I want to do well but it's nice to be competing again. We can play practise rounds, but the intensity is just different, and I felt more focused and more precise with my targets.

"I'm thankful for everyone who has helped make this event happen to help us get back to competitive mode and be ready when more events, hopefully including the Singapore Open, returns."

The Singapore Invitational consists of eight legs held across two venues - Tanah Merah Country Club and SGC - from March to January next year, and has a total prize purse of $94,800.

Eighteen Singapore pros and six local amateurs will compete over two days (36 holes) for the $10,600 prize in each leg. Each event will count towards the 'Race to FTAG Cup', where the winner of the Order of Merit will receive a bonus of $10,000.

The competition is also a mixed-event gender that sees some of the nation's top female players taking on their male counterparts.

Amanda Tan, 22, is one of four women in this week's field and was tied for fourth after a 71. Her last international event was in Taiwan in January last year and she said: "It feels good to compete again. I have been working on correcting my bad habits, but it was tough when I cannot see how it works out in a competition.

"Today, I felt was fairly consistent, making one birdie and one bogey. I wasn't driving extremely well, but my misses were within the fairway; I didn't hit my approach shots really close to the pin, but made a lot of up-and-downs to save par.

"Overall, this is a good event as female golfers can compete against the men and the best pros in Singapore, which is not common. I'm looking forward to play with Mardan Mamat, Marc Kawasoe and Koh Dengshan tomorrow and learn from them aspects such as course management."

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