Cody stars at Serapong and will now play for Singapore
Professional golf has always seemed too daunting for amateur Cody Lim.
But the 22-year-old certainly played like a pro when he carded an impressive even-par 72 at the Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course in the national final of the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) World Golfers Championship (WGC) yesterday.
With his score, Lim and four others earned the opportunity to represent Singapore at the WGC Finals in Durban, South Africa, from Nov 1 to 8.
The SPH-WGC is the national qualifier for the WGC tournament, and it began with two qualifying rounds in September at Sentosa's Tanjong Course.
It attracted a total of 240 golfers over the two rounds, with the top 80 golfers playing in yesterday's final.
Lim, who recently completed National Service, carded the best score of the round to top Division A (0-5.4 handicap).
The other winners were Sushminder Singh (B, 5.5-10.4), Brian Chen (C, 10.5-15.4), Tan Horng Chiang (D, 15.5-20.4) and David Seow (E, 20.5-25.4).
The WGC in Durban offers different handicap divisions for golfers of varying abilities, and is into its 20th edition this year.
Though he admitted that he is unlikely to turn pro in the future, Lim, who has a course handicap of 0.5, is looking forward to the chance of feeling like one in South Africa.
"To play golf in South Africa, a country where players like Ernie Els and Retief Goosen hail from, is really exciting," said Lim, who plays for Sembawang Country Club in the inter-club league.
"Before NS, I played around six to seven tournaments a year, but all within the local circuit. I've never travelled to play golf before, except for Malaysia."
Lim played at the difficult Serapong Course on just two occasions before yesterday. Yet, he carded a much better score from his previous effort during the qualifiers on the Tanjong Course (six-over 78) two weeks ago.
"That's golf; sometimes you play well when it's tougher," he said.
"I was doing really well during the first 12 holes, with a four under.
"Then I heard that someone from the flight behind was playing really well, and I started to feel the pressure.
"I cracked a little; the last four holes I had a double-bogey and two bogeys."
Things worked out conversely for Division B champion Sushminder in his maiden round at Serapong.
The 43-year-old prison officer bogeyed the first hole and recorded an eight on his second hole (the par-five fourth), before finally finding his swing.
He finished with a three-over 75.
"It's a dream come true to play in South Africa. When I signed up for the tournament, that was my goal," said Sushminder, who plays for Changi Golf Club.
"I'll have to sharpen my game before we leave, from putting to the mental side of it.
"I was already tense during the last few holes here; my hands were shaking."
At Durban, the five golfers will play two practice rounds and four tournament rounds.
They will compete for the team title as well as individual honours in their respective handicap divisions.
S Murali, deputy editor at The New Paper and also the organiser of the SPH WGC event, said: "I think the two qualifiers and the national final we played today have given us a fantastic team to take to South Africa.
"Our A division winner Cody shot an even-par 72 at Serapong. Our B Division winner Sushminder went around in 75.
"Even our E Division champ David shot a solid 84. The world finals won't be easy but this team gives me a lot of confidence that we can do some damage in Durban."
S'pore team will be fine-tuned for WGC
TNP PHOTO: JEREMY LONG
Have no fear, M Balraj is here.
Through the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) World Golfers Championship (WGC), five golfers have earned the opportunity to represent Singapore at the WGC Finals in Durban, South Africa, from Nov 1 to 8.
They produced some impressive golf to top their respective handicap divisions during the final round at Sentosa's Serapong course yesterday, but the quintet will surely need to polish their game before the big test in Durban.
That's where Balraj (above), a golf instructor of 21 years, comes in.
The 52-year-old will coach the Singapore team over four lessons before the golfers set off for South Africa at the end of the month.
"Some of the guys, like Cody Lim (Div A champion) are very good, and already have coaches," Balraj said.
"The players in the D and E divisions are the ones I'll be helping more - but, of course, I'll help anyone who seeks advice.
"In golf, you never stop learning, no matter how old or experienced you are."
Balraj has already mapped out the four lessons, which begin on Oct 20.
"For the first lesson, we will work on the short game and then also do ball-fitting at the driving range," said Balraj, who represented Singapore at the 1989 World Team Amateurs in Sweden.
"Later on, I will check on their swing and prepare them mentally.
"The courses in South Africa are challenging like Serapong, but it can get very windy there.
"So, I'll have to coach them on keeping their shots low as well."