Cruise for Kim at Faldo Series Singapore Championship
Singapore (November 25): Desmond Kim continued his rich vein of recent form with a wire-to-wire victory in the Faldo Series Singapore Championship.
Fresh from outstanding performances in the Laguna National Match Play Championship and Singapore National Amateur Championship, Kim proved too strong for his rivals in the 17th leg of the record-breaking 2016-17 Faldo Series Asia season.
Despite a couple of late lapses of concentration at Jurong Country Club, 17-year-old Kim cantered to a five-stroke triumph from Donovan Lee Zhi Peng in the overall standings.
As winner of the Boys’ Division, Lee has earned the right to represent Singapore alongside Kim at the 11th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Laguna Lăng Cô in Danang, Central Vietnam, in March, 2017.
Joining them will be Erika Layson who won the Girls’ Division on a countback from Denise Wong Mei Yan after a thrilling final-day duel between the duo.
The Singapore qualifier was notable on a couple of counts.
Firstly, the Faldo Series Singapore Championship was one of the final competitive tournaments at the Jurong course before it closes its doors at the end of the year to make way for the terminus of the new Singapore-Malaysia high-speed rail and a mixed-use development, comprising officer, hotels, retail outlets and residences.
Secondly, the 55-strong field included four junior golfers from the Moscow Golf Federation who were invited to participate in the tournament.
The quartet were part of a delegation who were in Singapore for an official economic conference called the ‘Days of Moscow’, organised by the Government of Moscow. The objective was to promote friendly ties through golf between the Moscow Golf Federation and Singapore Golf Association.
Six-time Major champion Faldo, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “Any initiatives that promote friendship through golf are to be applauded. Golf is a truly international sport that can break down many barriers.
“I thank the Singapore Golf Association for their continued efforts to develop the game and I’m sure the golfers from Moscow as well as the Singapore youngsters who played with them will not forget the experience.”
Victory was the culmination of a fine spell from Kim. Now in his first year at junior college, Kim represented Singapore at the 2016 Asean School Games in the Philippines. As well as placing fourth in the 36-hole stroke play segment at the Singapore National Amateur Championship, Kim had the distinction of winning Laguna National Match Play Championship for the second time.
In the absence of Tommy Tan Xuan Hao who withdrew after dislocating a shoulder, Kim, who boasts an official handicap index of 1.6 and is an established member of the Singapore National Development Squad, raced to the top of the leaderboard with an opening 72 at Jurong.
A second successive even-par return saw Kim triple his advantage to six shots from Lee going into the final round of The R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking event.
Never coming under serious threat in the final round, Kim carded two double-bogeys on the back nine en route to an 80 and a three-day aggregate of eight-over-par 224.
Lee’s hopes of mounting a last-day charge were derailed at the par-five first hole where he ran-up a quadruple-bogey nine. To his credit he covered the remaining 17 holes in three-over.
In the Girls’ segment, Layson staged a thrilling last-day comeback.
Full of confidence after an excellent run that saw her reach the women’s final at last week’s 17th Singapore National Amateur Championship, Layson closed with a 78.
That gave her a 54-hole total of 234 and drew her level with Wong, whom she had trailed by five shots after two rounds.
The key moment for Layson came at the short 17th where she snared a birdie to move into a share top spot. Both players parred the long 18th, meaning Layson was awarded victory on countback.
Supported by The R&A and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the 2016-17 Faldo Series Asia campaign stretches over 11 months.
As well as two events in China, India and Thailand, championships are being staged in Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
Recognised as the only global amateur series for boys and girls, the Faldo Series was established in 1996, expanding to Asia in 2006.
Today, 40 Faldo Series tournaments take place in 30-plus countries worldwide, touching more than 7,000 golfers each year. Past winners include Tseng Ya-ni and Rory McIlroy, both multiple Major winners.
Faldo Series Singapore Championship, leading final scores:
224 – Desmond Kim (72-72-80)
229 – Donovan Lee Zhi Peng (74-76-79)
235 – Warren Lee (80-77-78); Brandon Han Zhen Guang (79-76-80)
236 – Karasev Alexey (78-80-78)
234 – Erika Layson (79-77-78); Denise Wong Mei Yan (77-74-83)
237 – Nicole Mok Shue Ying (78-79-80)
241 – Shannon Tan Xuan Yin (80-84-77)
242 – Lauren Tan (83-82-77); Inez Ng Xin Yi (80-79-83)