In his first event after a two-year hiatus from competitive golf, Nicklaus Chiam found himself an unexpected joint-second going into the final round of the 2016 Itani Quality Homes Collegiate in Washington.
Any thoughts of a fairy-tale return were soon ended after he carded two bogeys and a double bogey in the opening four holes. He managed to regroup and signed for a one-over 72 to finish fourth, two strokes behind champion and Washington State University teammate Nick Mandell.
Chiam recalled: "It was nerve-racking; it'd been too long since I'd played. I wasn't put in that situation for a long time and hadn't expected to do so well.
"It was disappointing that I didn't start off as well as the first two rounds."
It was nevertheless an important lesson - to focus only on the next shot and not be distracted by potential results - and one that has been key to his recent successes.
At July's Putra Cup in Hanoi, the 24-year-old led after each round. But this time, he did not stumble and captured the individual title and led Singapore (together with Donovan Lee, Justin Kuk and Low Wee Jin) to their first team crown at the South-east Asian premier amateur tournament since 2011.
On how his approach to the game has changed, Chiam said: "It used to be very result-based and that put pressure on me. I learnt to take things one step at a time and focus on the present.
"I think more about how to make the best out of things, focus on what I can control and less about what might happen."
Singapore Golf Association high performance manager Joshua Ho, who was previously in the national team with Chiam, said of the latter: "When it's time to hit, he's in the zone and focused, but he knows how to smile and is still his bubbly self. It's a very good way not to put too much pressure on himself.
"Even if he doesn't pull it off, he doesn't let it snowball."
Ho, who was part of the quartet who won the men's team title at the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, believes Chiam's positivity will be crucial as the new side comprising Chiam, Low, Hiroshi Tai and James Leow aim to claim back-to-back titles next month in Clark in the Philippines.
Ho, 25, said: "Golf is an individual game, but he will be the guy who is fun to be in the locker room with.
"He gives his honest opinion and cares about his teammates, and the light-heartedness is important in such a pressure-packed environment."
After the biennial Games end, the international business major will return to the United States to complete his final semester in college. He will stay on to participate in several amateur tournaments before turning professional in 2021.
His time in the US has been challenging but worthwhile, Chiam said, adding that he was inspired by compatriots and fellow Putra Cup individual champions Choo Tze Huang and Jonathan Woo. The former attended the University of Washington while Woo went to the University of Oregon.
Chiam said: "My confidence has built up and it has made me more sure that I want to play golf in the States, so we just have to keep pushing through.
"It will be different, just focusing more on golf, but I'm working towards something that I want to do and really love."