Thai golfers make clean sweep
Poh's play-off loss hands Thais all the gold medals on offer
Heading into the 18th hole at Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course, Thailand's Natipong Srithong had no clue he was trailing Singapore's Johnson Poh by one stroke.
Before he hit his second approach shot, he gazed up at the scoreboard, saw Poh in the lead, and decided to go for an eagle on the par-five to clinch the gold medal.
The eagle did not materialise, but the audacious move set up a five-foot birdie chance, which the 22-year-old Natipong sank for a one-under 71 to force a play-off.
Both Poh, who shot a final-round best score of four-under 68, and Natipong finished on a one-under 287 total.
Riding on his momentum, Natipong went on to beat Poh in the play-off to complete a clean sweep of golfing golds for Thailand.
The Thais (859) won the men's team event by eight strokes, ahead of Singapore (867) and Indonesia (883).
In the women's individual event, Thailand's Suthavee Chanachai maintained her sizzling form with a three-under 69 to clinch the top prize.
She had carded a 66 yesterday to take the overnight lead.
Indonesia's Rivani Sihotang (73) took the silver, while Singapore's Koh Sock Hwee (77) settled for bronze after playing four play-off rounds with Rivani and Thailand's Pajaree Anannarukarn.
Thailand's women golfers also took the team gold with a 426 total, ahead of Indonesia (446) and Singapore (452).
"I'm very happy for myself and Thailand," said Natipong, whose previous best was a silver in 2011.
"We (set a) target of four gold medals and we did it. I'm sure all my teammates are happy too.
"It feels good to be champion, (especially) because this is my last amateur tournament. I'm turning pro when I join the Asian Tour in October."
It was heartbreak for Poh, whose 68 saw him overtake his compatriots Marc Ong and Jonathan Woo but was not enough for the outright lead to win the gold.
The 23-year-old Poh, who won an individual silver at the 2009 Games in Laos, took a gamble during the play-off round when he slightly overhit his approach shot on the par-four ninth hole.
He bogeyed the hole, while Natipong played a safe par for victory.
"I liked the weather today. I don't play well in the heat, so that's why I did well," Poh said, referring to the intermittent rain which delayed play for more than two hours.
"A silver medal still feels great, because I did my best. In a way, I can tell myself I'm a gold-medallist too, because I was tied at the top after 18 holes."
While it went down to the wire for the men's individual event, it was a no-contest in the women's event as Suthavee stamped her class with a seven-under 209 total.
The 17-year-old, making her debut at the biennial event, made four birdies and an eagle to finish 11 strokes ahead of the field.
"I putted well all three rounds and my approach shots were okay, so making birdies was easy," she said.
"I played with confidence but there was still pressure, because I did not want to lose after (gaining) such a lead."
- 287: Natipong Srithong (Tha) 70-73-73-71, Johnson Poh 72-73-74-68 (Natipong wins on first play-off hole)
- 288: Tawan Phongphun (Tha) 69-75-73-71
- 209: Suthavee Chanachai (Tha) 71-69-69
- 220: Rivani Sihotang (Ina) 70-77-73, Koh Sock Hwee 69-74-77, Pajaree Anannarukarn (Tha) 72-74-74 (Rivani wins silver, Koh bronze after play-off)
- 859: Thailand
- 867: Singapore
- 883: Indonesia
- 426: Thailand
- 446: Indonesia
- 452: Singapore