Tai golf siblings going great in the US

Tai golf siblings going great in the US
Yoko Tai and brother Hiroshi have both settled on golf after trying out many sports and have triumphed at international events.

Unknown to many Singaporeans, Yoko and Hiroshi Tai are two young golfers flying the Republic's flag and winning overseas tournaments.

Hiroshi, a 13-year-old based in Florida, and younger sister Yoko, 11, who studies in Shanghai, first picked up the sport at the age of three, having observed their parents, Jacky Tai and Yukiko Hirahara, on the greens.

"They looked like they were having fun so I wanted to join in too," said Hiroshi.

The siblings have been living abroad since 2010 after their father was posted to Shanghai for work.

Since then, the duo have racked up a collection of trophies from various international golf competitions.

Last year, Yoko won the Taylormade World Masters of Junior Golf in Las Vegas while her brother clinched the IMG Junior Golf tournament title in Orlando.

With Hiroshi wanting to take his game to greater heights, he moved to the United States last June and is currently studying at the Windermere Preparatory School in Florida, which is noted for its golf programme. Yoko will join him next month.

Despite finding themselves competing regularly on foreign soil, their mother Yukiko said: "They are proud to hold the flag for Singapore, even if they are the only ones on many occasions."

The siblings' potential on the greens was spotted by Singapore Island Country Club coaches Mark Lazenby and Andrew Welsford back in 2006.

"Hiroshi was always serious about his golf, even from that early an age," said Lazenby.

"Yoko was cheeky, sometimes too cheeky, but I could already tell that she too had great potential."

But, on Welsford's advice, the siblings were encouraged to enjoy playing as many sports as possible before focusing on golf.

"Playing football and rugby has helped me make more friends and become a better athlete," said Hiroshi.

Yoko, who also played netball, added: "I would like to be involved in water sports, and perhaps even learn how to snowboard and play baseball.

"But I'll keep coming back to golf because it is by far the most unique and interesting sport."

So even though the siblings have tried out other sports, they remain dedicated to golf and are determined to turn professional one day.

And while they are uncertain when they will be back in Singapore again, they remain proud of the fact that they are flying the five stars and crescent moon when they compete in the sport that they love.


This article was first published on June 5, 2015.
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