Sushminder gets his second chance at Turkey honours
Seventh last year, prison officer tops Div B, hopes to do better in Turkey this time
For the second year running, prison officer Sushminder Singh topped Division B (5.5-10.4) with the same score of 75 in the National Final of the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) World Amateur Golfers Championship (WAGC).
And, just like how the 44-year-old did it last year at Sentosa's Serapong Course, he won this year's competition by playing at Tanah Merah Country Club's Garden Course for the very first time.
"It feels great to do it again. I didn't manage to squeeze in a practice round and I managed to win today, thanks to the encouragement of my flightmates," said Sushminder, a 7.5-handicap index golfer.
"They kept telling me, 'Fight, fight, fight', and I kept my focus from the first to the 18th and, while I finished five over on the par-70 course, I felt I didn't fumble today."
Sushminder was made to sweat though, as he had to win on countback from Kris Poniman, who also shot a 75.
Hence, the back-nine scores came into play and Sushminder's 36 beat Poniman's by two shots.
"It was a great moment of joy and relief to hear my name read out as the winner," added Sushminder.
"I finished seventh in the final last year and our team were second, so we are on a mission to improve on last year's results and come back as world champions."
With his score, Sushminder and four others earned the opportunity to represent Singapore at the WAGC Finals in Antalya, Turkey, from Nov 28 to Dec 5.
They will be coached by top local instructor M Balraj before travelling.
The WAGC in Antalya offers different handicap divisions for golfers of varying abilities, and is into its 21st edition this year.
Team Singapore will play two practice rounds and four tournament rounds, where they will compete for the team title as well as individual honours in their respective handicap divisions.
Singapore won the WAGC team event in 2008 and finished second last year, with banker David Seow picking up an individual title in Division E (20.5-25.4 handicap).
This year's tournament will be played on some of Turkey's best golf courses, including the Lykia Links Course and the Gloria New and Old Golf Courses.
The SPH-WAGC is the national qualifier for the WAGC tournament, and it began with two qualifying rounds earlier this month at Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course.
It attracted more than 200 golfers over the two rounds, with the top 72 golfers playing in yesterday's final.
The other winners were Ron Totton (0-5.4), Goh Chuan Chin (10.5-15.4), Willy Teo (15.5-20.4) and Frankie Lim (20.5-25.4).
There were no countback concerns for Totton, who carded a two-over 72, the best score of the day, to top Division A (0-5.4 handicap).
The 44-year-old managing director of British Telecom (South-east Asia) had rubbed shoulders with some of the world's best, such as Major winners Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington and John Daly, when he qualified for the 2011 Hong Kong Open, a European Tour event.
Totton, who plays off a 1.7 handicap index, said: "These are actually my two ultimate golf dreams - to qualify for a top professional Tour event, and to qualify for the WAGC.
"It was sneaky tough out there today and I had a rough start in windy conditions - I flew the green on the first and third and was threeover after the first three holes.
"But I knew I can play better and I played more aggressive and birdied the 10th, 15th and 18th for a two-under 32 on the back nine.
"I signed up for the qualifier only at the last minute after hearing about it from a friend and this has been such a great event, and every aspect of it has been just world-class.
"Now that I'm through to Turkey, I'm absolutely in it to win it."
S Murali, deputy editor of The New Paper and also general manager of SPH Golf, said: "In our first year of hosting the local qualifiers, our team went on to finish second in the world finals behind hosts South Afica, with the US finishing third.
"After this year's keenly contested final, we are confident that our team of golfers can do Singapore proud in Turkey and maybe come back as world champions."
THE TOP 3 GOLFERS ACROSS FIVE DIVISIONS
DIV A (0-5.4 HANDICAP)
- Ron Totton 72
- Ou Yang Hua 79
- Mark Lim 82
DIV B (5.5-10.4)
- Sushminder Singh 75
- Kris Poniman 75
- Benson Lee 80
DIV C (10.5-15.4)
- Goh Chuan Chin 80
- Victor Lem 83
- Ting Hock Guan 84
DIV D (15.5-20.4)
- Willy Teo 83
- Wilson Sim 86
- Seow Kim Bock 87
DIV E (20.5-25.4)
- Frankie Lim 86
- Chua Teck Heng 91
- Olivier Darrieux 91