SEA Games 2017

SEA Games: Golfers make Marc

Marc Ong and his caddie celebrating after Singapore won the sudden- death play-off in the team event against Thailand.
Marc Ong and his caddie celebrating after Singapore won the sudden- death play-off in the team event against Thailand.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/ THE MINES RESORT & GOLF CLUB

Singapore go right down to the wire to win their first team gold at the Games

Golfer Marc Ong broke down on Thursday after handing in his scorecard - and understandably so - as a single stroke had denied him the SEA Games individual gold.

Yesterday, at The Mines Resort and Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur, the 22-year-old cried again.

This time, however, it was tears of joy as he led Singapore to their first team golf medal at the SEA Games, sealing the victory with a birdie on the third play-off hole in his match against Thailand's Kammalas Namuangruk.

The team, comprising Ong, Gregory Foo, Joshua Shou and Joshua Ho, secured the Republic's first gold medal in the sport since Samson Grimson won the individual title in 1989.

Ong said: "I'm overwhelmed, but we worked hard for it, and really ground it out.

"We definitely deserved it, and to finally win it after so many years, I'm just very proud of the team."

TEAM EFFORT

We really wanted to win it together and after I won, we all broke down in tears because we know how much work we have put in.

MARC ONG, national golfer, on how much the team gold means to him and his team.

Shou had lost 4&2 to Witchayanon Chothirunrungrueng, while Foo had evened things up with a 1-up win over individual champion Kosuke Hamamoto. Ong and Kammalas finished all square to send the final into a play-off.

Ong was the team's elected representative in the play-off and he admitted that it was like "having the whole country in my hands" which made it a "nerve-racking" affair.

He added: "I was disappointed with second place in individuals... but that boosted my confidence even more coming into today.

"I didn't want to lose to them (Thailand) another time, the team knew it and felt the same way.

"So in our heads, we dropped everything that happened in individuals and focused on the team bond.

"We really wanted to win it together and after I won, we all broke down in tears because we know how much work we have put in.

"All the years finishing second, losing to Thailand… we knew that this was a hard-fought victory."

Said Foo: "We came in with such a strong belief that we could win it."

It was this sheer belief that gave the Singaporeans the edge in the final, says coach Andrew Welsford.

He added: "(What set us apart) was... the team believed in each other individually and collectively as a team. We see ourselves as a unit.

"(The boys) played brilliantly today, especially Marc, who I have to say is a very mature young man."

Ong, who is nearing the end of his National Service stint, insisted that the win in the team event was worth more than any individual glory.

He said: "Individuals is up to your own performance, and of course I wanted to win but we came into this week with the mindset that the goal for us was the team event.

"For sure I would take it over the individual title."

Singapore Golf Association president Ross Tan hoped yesterday's win would serve as a motivation for the Republic's young golfers.

Tan said: "The gold is very meaningful because ever since this new board was elected (in July last year), we've been working very hard to try to do something for golf.

"We started with the creation of the developmental squads for the youngsters, and now the seniors have delivered something which I hope will help us a lot in terms of giving those younger players something to look up to."

Ong's first SEA Games gold will be his last, however. He intends to turn professional next year and the Games competition is open only to amateurs.

Ong said: "I'll definitely miss the guys; they are an awesome group to travel with but alas we all have to make a career for ourselves.

"I'm very happy that I got to end this journey with this victory."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 27, 2017, with the headline 'Golfers make Marc'. Print Edition | Subscribe