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Talented teen golfers do Singapore proud


THERE are many aspects of golf that one has to put together to be a good player.

More often than not when a golfer tries to get his driving, short game, pitching, sand play and putting right, either one aspect gives way or a couple of blown bad holes result in an unexpected inflated score.

That dire situation occurs when the golfer is seriously affected by a bad shot or face the mental pressures of blown holes.

Teenagers Louis Tee and Vanessa Khoo have experienced this before, but where they come out tops is the manner in which they bounce back from adversity.

Louis, 17, an IB Diploma programme student at the Singapore Sports School, and Vanessa, a 16-year-old student at Raffles Girls School, point to this feel-good -factor for their decent showings at the recent Singapore Golf Association's (SGA) Junior Open at Seletar Country Club last week.

The duo were the Best Local Performers, Louis finishing fifth in Boys' Overall Category and Vanessa joint-sixth in the girls' section.

Louis shot scores of 78-71-72 in the three-day event for a five-over 221 total to claim the Rolex Cup while Vanessa returned consistent rounds of 78-75-76 to bag the Pat Trophy in a very competitive field.

Australia's Jediah Morgan was the best boys' performer with a nine-under 207 (69-69-69) total while Thailand's Arpichaya Yubol finished on top in the girls' division on 211 (69-69-73).

Louis, currently torn between studies and sport and unsure of what the future holds, took up the game at the age of seven because of the encouragement of his dad Francis, a social golfer who is in the real estate business.

Said a confident Louis: "I became serious with the game when I went into the Sports School at the age of 12. My handicap index was around 12 then and I brought it down to five within a couple of years. That was because I played golf six times a week during that period, with five three-hour practice sessions and a weekend round."

A member of the SGA Development Squad, Louis, who admires Tiger Woods for "his charisma and his ability to make the game a fun thing" knows that he is far from the finished product because his driving can be wayward. He adds: "Where I score is that mentally I am strong, and I can easily forget a bad hole. That was what happened at Seletar where after a not-so-good 78 on the first day, I came back with a 71 and 72.

Vanessa, who has placed a premium on her studies with ambitions to be a doctor or lawyer, sees golf as a good way to relax. An admirer of Annika Sorenstam and a member of SGA's Development Squad, she is not one to be left behind in her studies. On her game, the bubbly lass who has been playing golf for 10 years mainly because of the encouragement of her dad Japs said that her main strength was the great ability to recover from mistakes.

Her biggest problem these days, however, is finding enough time for golf. She trained for only two weeks for the SGA event because of her school exam preparations.

From what the duo have said, Louis and Vanessa look set for different routes in the future, but for now they remain determined to do Singapore proud on the golf course.