Soon it was back to the stifling humidity of a Singaporean day though and they were off and running again. I made a point of watching Golf Monthly’s adopted 15-year-old Samoan, Niko Vui, stripe his opening Asian Amateur Championship drive away, before airmailing the first three greens, but saving par every time. A mixture of nerves and adrenalin he later told me.
Funnily enough I later spotted a sprinkler head with a yardage on some 29 yards beyond the 1st green. Never seen that before – perhaps airmailing is a common problem out here?
I also had an encounter with some monkeys – long-tailed macaques – on the 1st hole. Friendly at first, their ringleader turned a little sour after a while when I hovered too long trying to get the perfect snap and he began to see me as a threat.
I thought about staring him out, but a quick baring of the teeth and show of aggression (from him!) were enough to see me on my way before he called his mates down from the tree for a bit of support.
I then got an urgent call back to the clubhouse for interviews with the tournament organisers and Sir Nick Faldo – Asian Amateur Championship ambassador – who was in good form talking about everything from Asian golf and his design projects out here, to the junior Faldo Series, Tiger, Sergio, his family, his own golf game and more.
En route back I learned a couple of things: 1) Don’t run uphill in Singapore unless you want an instant two-tone shirt; 2) Avail yourself of passing buggies whenever possible – the first time I’ve hitched a lift since college.
As for the golf, Niko ended up signing for a 78 which leaves him in 77th place with work to do today to make it through to the weekend, while the Asian Amateur Championship leader for most of the day was Malaysia’s Kenneth Christian John de Silva on 67.
He was later joined on that mark by three others including defending champion Hideki Matsuyama from Japan, while right at the end South Korea’s Soo-min Lee eclipsed them all with a 7-under 65 which featured six birdies and an eagle.
I’m off now to see if round two is finally underway after early morning rain… and to check on our young Samoan’s progress in his bid to be around for all four days at the Asian Amateur Championship.