S'pore’s top golf amateur gears up for Putra Cup defence
Defending champ is in the groove, but Thais pose the main threat
Singapore's top amateur Gregory Foo faces a tough challenge to retain his Putra Cup individual title.
A catalogue of star players from Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia stands in his way as the competition tees off at Tanah Merah's Garden course on Tuesday.
Foo, however, is in the groove with some star performances and top-class showing in the practice rounds.
The 23-year-old who denied the hosts Thailand by winning easily by four shots last year, placed third among a strong field at the Thailand Amateur Open last week in Bangkok.
He finished with an even-par 72 in his final round for a 281 total last year to fend off Thai challengers Witchayanon Chothirunrungrueng (285) and Kammalas Namuangruk (286).
The Tanah Merah Country Club representative became the sixth Singaporean to have won the prestigious South-east Asian amateur tournament, after Phua Thin Kiay (1967), Mardan Mamat (1993), Choo Tze Huang (2006, 2011), Quincy Quek (2007) and Jonathan Woo
Foo aside, the home team's Putra Cup line-up includes Marc Ong, 21, Joshua Shou, 26, and Joshua Ho, 22.
Foo's biggest challenge comes from Thailand's Witchayanon, who won last week's Thai event with a 15-under 273 total.
Another Thai, Sadom Kaewkanjana, who finished runner-up to Witchayanon on 275 in Bangkok, is also a strong opponent. The other two Thai players are Kammalas and Napong Sriparsit.
Malaysia's Galven Kendall Green is likely to pose the biggest threat from across the Causeway, although Nazrin Jailani, Chan Tuck Soon and Daeng Abdul Rahman can also cause upsets.
Indonesia field a formidable line-up in M Rifqi Alam Ramadhan, Clement Kurniawan, Almay Rayhan Yaquta and Cahyo Adhitomo.
Although defending champion Thailand are favourites for the team event, Singapore hope to turn the tables because of home-ground advantage and a strong bond among the quartet who have been practising together at the Garden for the last six weeks.
Jerome Ng, the team's executive golf specialist who has been helping national coach Andrew Welsford with tactics and techniques, said: "The Putra Cup has always been close to us. And as hosts, we stand a good chance of finishing on top.
"The new Garden course, which is a par-70, gives us an advantage because the foreign teams are not too familiar with it. We hope to take advantage of this."
The 56th Putra Cup aside, there will be the 10th Lion City Cup, 8th Santi Cup and 4th Kartini Cup events being played concurrently, bringing together 85 up-and-coming golfers from the region.
Thailand will be defending their team titles in the Putra Cup, the Lion City Cup and the Santi Cup while the Philippines will defending the Kartini Cup crown.
The other Putra Cup players are: Leon Philip D'Souza, Shinichi Mizuno, Terence Ng and Michael Regan Wong of Hong Kong; Hein Sithu, Kyaw Thet Oo, Sithu Ye Yint and Zin Aung Min of Myanmar; and Ruperto Zaragosa III, Noel Langamin, Weiwei Gao and Luis Miguel Castro representing the Philippines.
Singapore will also field Louis Tee, Tommay Tan and Ryan Wong (Lion City Cup); Amanda Tan, Jacqueline Young and Callista Chen (Santi Cup); and Nicole Mok, Denise Wong and Vanessa Khoo (Kartini Cup).