Golf: S'pore's James Leow shows ability, maturity in fabulous 68 at International Series

SINGAPORE – A well-deserved loud applause greeted James Leow’s birdie on the last hole as the Singaporean amateur stood tall among a strong professional field on Sunday (Aug 14).

The Arizona State University graduate fashioned out five birdies in what would have been an impeccable card if not for the bogey on the hoodoo 210-metre par-three fourth that had troubled the field because of its size and undulations.

Leow, 25, shot a four-under 68 for a 280 total that placed him in tied-31st and also as the best amateur in the 74-player weekend card of the Asian Tour’s US$1.5 million (S$2.1 million) International Series Singapore.

After a relatively slow start from the 10th tee of Tanah Merah Country Club’s Tampines course, Leow bagged birdies on the 15th, 16th, fifth, eighth and ninth holes.

The last-hole birdie on the par-four confirmed his innate ability, conjured up by a 270-metre drive and a pitch from about 35 metres that landed about two-club lengths from the flag.

Beaming with confidence he sank the downhill putt, thanks to some good line reading of his own and affirmed by national coach Matt Ballard on the bag.

Said Leow: “Unlike yesterday (Saturday) where my pitching was a little off, today I found the approach shots landing within 10 feet of the hole, giving me holing opportunities.

“I drove well, putted okay, and thank coach Matt for giving me the confidence overall. It’s great to have someone competent and one you know well as your caddie.”

Singapore’s other amateur Hiroshi Tai slipped by one shot from his Saturday round, but kudos to the Georgia Tech student for not crumbling after an unfortunate double-bogey that could have put many off course.

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Hiroshi was one under after 10 holes with birdies on the third, eighth and 10th holes and bogeys on seventh and ninth, but lost some ground when the par-four 390-metre 13th hole caused a near disaster.

He drove into the bunker, blasted out short, suffered a bad chip and ended up with a six on a hole he easily parred the past three days.

Admirably, he kept his calm and composure to play regulation golf and return a 73 for a 283 total and in tied-44 th place.

Singapore’s No. 1 Mardan Mamat bounced back from two bogeys (15th and 16th holes) and bagged birdies on the first and fifth holes for a 72 and in tied-63rd.