Golf: Rookie pro Koh almost there

Koh Sock Hwee.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

It is a position that would make any golfer relaxed and comfortable.

It is a position which would take the fight out of rivals, as world No. 1 Jordan Spieth has shown lately.

So with a four-shot lead over amateur Amanda Tan, rookie professional Koh Sock Hwee is in the driver's seat to take the Singapore spot for the US$1.5 million ($2.13m) 2016 HSBC Women's Champions at the Sentosa's Serapong course in March.

A two-over 74, marked by three birdies and five bogeys, was enough for the battle-hardened Koh to take the perch on the first day of the HSBC Women's Champions qualifiers at the famed course.

Under sunny skies and humid conditions, the affable 26-year-old tamed her 10 rivals - joint-third-placed Ashley Loh Leanne and professional Amelia Yong are on 80 - yesterday.

Said Koh: "I was very relaxed and felt no pressure today. I am happy with my round and hope this is what I can do tomorrow too.

"I tend to give myself a lot of pressure, so the most important thing for me is to focus on my own game, stick to the game plan and just enjoy myself.

"To get the opportunity to play at the HSBC Women's Champions again would be a perfect ending to a great week.

"This is why we are all playing this week - to try and get that spot, and it feels good to be in this position right now."

Twice-qualifier (2012 and 2015) Koh is planning to play in the China LPGA Tour following Qualifying School in March and then return to the US LPGA Tour in the hope of making it a worthwhile pro career.

Amanda, the 16-year-old winner of the 2014 qualifying tournament, feels she must improve today to have a chance of catching Koh.

She said: "Overall I feel I did not meet my expectations today. There were some shots that I had trouble with and would have preferred a better start.

"I will be extremely happy if I come out on top tomorrow and can have the chance to participate at HSBC Women's Champions again."

World No. 1 Lydia Ko, defending champion and world No. 2 Park Inbee and 2014 champion Paula Creamer will descend upon Singapore for the March 3 to 6 event.

LEADERBOARD

74: Koh Sock Hwee

78: Amanda Tan

80: Ashley Loh Leanne, Amelia Yong

81: Elizabeth Ang

84: Jacqueline Young

85: Callista Chen

86: Erika Layson

87: Sarah Tan

89: Jessica Ang

90: Maisarah Saadon

GOLF

godfrey@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on January 14, 2016.
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