Golf: Singapore's James Leow captures Southwestern Amateur title

From left: James Leow, Nicklaus Chiam and Ashley Menne at the Southwestern Amateur tournament.
From left: James Leow, Nicklaus Chiam and Ashley Menne at the Southwestern Amateur tournament.PHOTO: SINGAPORE GOLF ASSOCIATION

SINGAPORE - Singapore's top-ranked amateur golfer James Leow continued his fine form in the United States on Saturday (June 19), claiming a three-stroke win at the Southwestern Amateur tournament in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Entering the final round with a three-shot lead, his one-under 70 gave him a 12-under 270 total, good enough to fend off a late challenge from Texan Tucker Allen (67).

A trio of Americans, Keenan Bronnenberg (69), Ryan Eshleman (72) and Leow's co-leader after the first round, Christian Banke (73), tied for third on 278.

Another Singaporean, Washington State University graduate Nicholas Chiam, was 14th in the 39-strong field on 287 after a final-round 69.

Leow, an Arizona State University undergraduate who underwent hip surgery in December, said he "enjoyed every moment being back in competition". Saturday's win was his third on US soil.

After finishing 37th last week at the Dogwood Invitational, he opened his campaign at the Outlaw Course at Desert Mountain Golf Club on Wednesday with a blistering eight-under 63 and held on to the lead throughout.

"Patience and hard work for the past six months came through for me this week," the 24-year-old reigning SEA Games champion added.

The tournament included a women's division for the first time, with Singaporean Ashley Menne, an ASU freshman, also standing out.

The 19-year-old finished third after a 73 gave her a total of 287, three strokes behind Chinese Taipei's Chen Ching-tzu (73). Another Taiwanese, Chang Ya-chun (69), was second on 285.

The three Singaporeans had also played well last month, with Leow and Chiam tying for fifth and second respectively at the Palo Verde Amateur event, while Menne was fourth in the NCAA Women's Championship.