Heartbreak for golfer Ong as late bogey scuppers gold-medal hopes
After walking off the greens at the Mines Resort & Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur, Marc Ong needed some time alone, and understandably so.
The 21-year-old Singaporean came within a whisker of writing his name into the Singapore history books, but fell agonisingly short in his attempt to become the Republic's first SEA Games golf gold medallist since 1989.
He lost to Thai winner Kosuke Hamamoto by one shot.
It was also in Kuala Lumpur that Samson Gimson won the men's singles gold medal and, for a while yesterday, it looked like Ong could end Singapore's 28-year drought.
He held a two-shot lead going into the final four holes, but Hamamoto birdied the 15th to narrow the deficit to one.
The turning point came on the 16th when Ong made a bogey and Hamamoto chipped in for an almost-impossible birdie. As a result, Ong went from holding a two-shot lead to trailing by one.
Ong carded a two-under 69 for a nine-under 204 total, just one stroke behind Hamamoto.
Another Thai golfer, Kammalas Namuangruk, took bronze.
"After I submitted my score card, I just wanted to be by myself in the changing room, and it got a bit teary, to be honest," Ong told The New Paper.
"I really felt that I could do it (win gold) this year, but the last few holes changed things."
Ong recalled what happened at the 16th hole, and the regret in his voice was unmistakable.
"(Hamamoto) got into a bad spot with his tee shot, and that chip-in took him from a bad spot to a birdie," said Ong of Hamamoto's chip from deep in the rough that looked like it had too much speed on it.
"It definitely gave me a surprise. You could hit 100 of those chips in training and probably only one would go in."
Ong tried to find the silver lining in defeat.
"A the start of the week, if I was told I'd win silver, I'd probably have taken it. But I thought I had the potential for gold, and I really did believe I could win it," he said.
Ong will get another shot at gold in the team event which starts today.
He believes Singapore will do well in the match-play format, judging by the performance of the other three golfers in the team - Gregory Foo (tied for fourth among 40 golfers), Joshua Shou (11th) and Joshua Ho (21st).
"I'm pretty sure the Thai golfers know that we are coming for them. We've lost to them in stroke play in the last couple of years, but match play is a different game," said Ong.
"If we get into the final, it's just one round of golf - and I think we've got a good chance."