Golf: Turning pro a new ball game for Singapore's Joshua Shou and Jesse Yap

National golfers Joshua Shou and Jesse Yap intend to turn pro early next year.
National golfers Joshua Shou and Jesse Yap intend to turn pro early next year. PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM / ASIA PACIFIC AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP

WELLINGTON • For national golfers Joshua Shou and Jesse Yap, the end of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) in Wellington yesterday was also a beginning, with a new reality awaiting them in the professional game.

Both intend to turn pro early next year and will take their first steps towards the next stage in their careers at the Asian Tour qualifying school in January.

The local scene has so far failed to produce pro golfers capable of succeeding stalwarts Mardan Mamat, who turns 50 tomorrow, and Lam Chih Bing, 40, but Singapore's first golf team SEA Games gold medal in August has raised hopes that the current generation of amateurs might have what it takes.

Shou, 27, who was part of the SEA Games quartet alongside Gregory Foo, Marc Ong and Joshua Ho, is under no illusion that glory in the amateur ranks will carry over smoothly to the pro side of things, however.

"You start out at the bottom having to manage everything by yourself. The golf courses aren't as good (as the AAC course at the Royal Wellington Golf Club), and you're not travelling to New Zealand every week but places near Singapore," he said.

"It's going to be a tough week every week in the pro ranks, but hopefully, I'll get through the learning curve as fast as I can."

Yap said the biggest difference for him would be the loss of the support he can count on as an amateur on the national team.

"We get a lot of support from coaches, team-mates and while I'm sure we'll still be practising together, it'll be different because I won't be travelling with the guys any more," said the 25-year-old.

"As a pro, I'll have to work out my own schedule and find places to practise on my own. Probably more stress because you worry about covering your expenses."

Shou and Yap believe they picked up valuable lessons at the AAC this week, where both of them missed the cut by one stroke after the second round on Friday, shooting seven-over 149s.

They were part of the six-man team, which also included Foo, Abdul Hadi, Ho and Low Wee Jin.

"I have to learn how to still score when my swing isn't there, when my game is not there," said Shou.

Yap concurred, adding: "It makes a difference if you save one or two strokes the first day. Maybe it's still a bad round but you put yourself in a better position for the next day."

Hadi was Singapore's top AAC performer, finishing tied-17th on even-par 284.

Jerome Ng, the Singapore Golf Association's acting general manager and high performance manager, said improving the wedge and putt game must be the top priority for Singapore amateurs and new pros.

"You can never be too good at the short game. At the end of the day, it's how many putts you hole that counts, and how good your shots are inside 120 metres."

That said, being a pro is more than just about working on one's game.

Ng, who turned pro in 2015, also stressed the importance of refining the mental approach to every shot.

"The mental aspect is important too. They just have to play more, more than they practise even, so they can improve their decision-making process during competitions," he said.

"The biggest thing to go through as well is to just take that leap of faith (to turn pro). The first few years will always be tough - not everybody goes in and becomes a Rory McIlroy or Jordan Spieth.

"But you will only give yourself a chance if you try."

Lester Wong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2017, with the headline 'Turning pro a new ball game for Shou and Yap'. Print Edition | Subscribe