Golf: Different strokes

After more than a month's inactivity because of the Asian Tour break, Singapore's three most promising youngsters Koh Dengshan, Lam Zhiqun and Choo Tze Huang were spoilt for choice with tournaments.

But it proved to be a double-edged sword: higher expenses for a tilt at a bigger prize-money or lower cost but for a much smaller purse.

In fact, it turned out to be a dilemma as they pondered long before deciding on which event to play.

In the end, they went separate ways, Koh and Lam choosing to play at the US$300,000 ($380,000) Sail Indian Open in New Delhi starting tomorrow while Choo opted for the US$60,000 PGM Sime Darby Harvard Championship teeing off today in Sungai Petani in Kedah.

So, expenses-wise Choo, 27, would pay about a quarter of what his teammates would pay to be in the Indian capital.

But Koh and Lam, both 25, could earn five times more if they snatch similar finishing positions as Choo.

The winner in New Delhi earns US$54,000 and the champion in Kedah takes home US$10,500.

It's a chicken-and-egg situation for Choo, who opted for the Asian Development Tour (ADT) event as he has not been playing an A-game recently.

The Orchid Country Club pro senses he needs a big breakthrough to motivate him and he sees the ADT event as a good platform from which to turn his game around.

Koh and Lam are playing in the Asian Tour event on country exemptions.

Said Koh: "I think the Delhi Golf Club has a unique layout. You need to put the ball in the right place off the tee. There is so much emphasis on the tee shots.

"I've played here in three events in the last two years. The first time I came, I really struggled. Didn't really know where to hit the ball and the fourth hole got me. But the more times you play here, I think the more you know where to hit it to or miss it. You need to manage your game here.

COOL HEAD

"It'll be important to do my best in the starts that I can get, especially in the early part of the year. I think I've slowly improved. The Tour has become so much tougher over the years.

"My game has grown a lot and it's a nice Tour to be on. I think I need to have a better attitude on the course, to have a more calmer mind when I play. Sometimes, I tend to get panicky. I need to work on my emotional control a bit more.".

Said Lam: "I'm starting to enjoy competitive golf more.

"The last two years, I put a lot of pressure on myself to well ever since turning professional a few years ago.

"The last few months, it's been better. I'm enjoying golf much more now. Back home, I'm trying to score on the course. Swing wise, I'm trying to be more consistent, keep the ball in play and hit more greens in regulation.

"This course here is different. There are so many ways to play it. Every year we look forward to come back here as it's such a new unique place.

"You can only use drivers on two holes on this course. You just need to keep the ball in play and make par which is a good score on this course.

"I've got long-term and short-term goals. I'm on a country exemption and hopefully I can get a chance to get into the top-60."

Indian rising star Anirban Lahiri will be shooting for an historic hat-trick when he defends his title in New Delhi.

Apart from winning the Sail-SBI Open last year and in 2012, Lahiri was also victorious at the fabled venue in the 2011 Panasonic Open India.

But he will need to overcome a stellar field which includes Bangladeshi's Siddikur Rahman, former Asian Tour No. 1s Thaworn Wiratchant and Jyoti Randhawa, Sweden's Rikard Karlberg, Thailand's Prom Meesawat, American Berry Henson, Filipino Angelo Que, Japan's Masahiro Kawamura, and Singapore's Mardan Mamat.

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