SINGAPORE - When retiree Ng Saing Leong registered his daughters, Jaymie, 17, and Denise, 14, for golf classes 10 years ago, along with swimming and tennis lessons, all he wanted was for them to enjoy sports as much as he did.
On Tuesday (April 19), while volunteering in the running of the National School Games (NSG) golf competition, Ng was filled with immense pride as he watched them win gold in both the A and B divisions at the Laguna National Golf and Country Club's Masters course.
"I am extremely proud to see both of them win, especially when Denise was still trailing by two strokes with five holes to go," said the 48-year-old, on the pair's first victory at the NSG.
"It is through many rounds of failures that they were able to find a single round of success like today and I think that speaks volume of their resilience and perseverance."
Representing Singapore Sports School (SSP), the sisters went into the final day of the two-day tournament atop the leaderboards.
Jaymie had mixed two birdies with a bogey to card a one-under 71 on Monday (April 18).
She improved on that score on Tuesday, firing four birdies for a 69, which helped her win the competition with a four-under 140 total. She finished 20 strokes ahead of 2021 B Division champion Angel Lim from Hwa Chong Institution and 37 ahead of 2021 A Division runner-up Jaclyn Choo from Catholic Junior College.
Jaymie, who finished fifth in last year's B division, said: "I didn't get to show my best performance during last year's National School Games so I am happy that this year I was able to keep calm and win.
"Being one of the favourites last year, I felt the pressure get to me but this year after playing in more competitions, I could handle the pressure better."
Jaymie, who won last year's Singapore National Amateur Championship, credited her sharpness to her participation in the Australian Girls' Amateur tournament in Adelaide two weeks ago, where she finished joint-11th.
"I think that helped prepare me and helped my game to be sharp to play this event."
It was a more nervy finish for Denise, who recorded an eight-over 80 on Monday for a one-stroke lead over Holy Innocents' High School's Gladys Oh.
But that slim advantage soon evaporated as Denise recorded five bogeys and a birdie in her first 12 holes in Tuesday's second round. Over the same stretch, Gladys mixed two birdies with three bogeys to turn a one-stroke deficit into a two-stroke lead.
But Denise rallied with a birdie in the 15th hole and Gladys registered a double-bogey in the 16th, which meant that both finished on three-over 75s, with Denise winning by one stroke with an 11-over 155 total.
"I didn't realise that I had won until I submitted the score," said Denise, who was making her secondary school debut in NSG. "I put up a good fight and didn't give up so I showed good fighting spirit.
"Initially, I felt a bit stressed but I calmed myself down and I told myself this is not over yet and that I still have the remaining holes to fight back."
Singapore Ladies Golf Association president Lyn Yeo, who was watching the competitions, has known Jaymie since she was 13 and said that her NSG win will be a confidence booster going into next month's Queen Sirikit Cup.
Jaymie, who is in the national development squad, will be representing the Republic alongside fellow national golfers Yoko Tai and Shannon Tan at the May 23-27 event, which will also be held at Laguna National.
"It is a world-class event where good players from each country will compete," said Jaymie. "I am honoured to be selected to play this event. I want to do well and show what I am capable of."
Yeo added that Jaymie's good work ethic and positive attitude make her a good role model for younger golfers.
She also hopes that Denise, who is in the national junior squad, "can follow Jaymie's path and one day represent Singapore".
"If she continues to train and also after taking part in this year's NSG, I think she's on track," said Yeo.
It was a clean sweep for SSP in the girls’ events as Chen Xingtong took gold in the C Division with two-under 142 despite a 73.
In the boys’ tournaments, last year’s B Division champion Daryl Low (72) from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) took the A Division title with a one-under 143.
Hwa Chong Institution’s Sean Pang (67) clinched the B Division title with a six-under 138 while ACS(I)’s Bruce Kwong (68) won the C Division with a one-over 145.