Terrence Ng put his "nearly man" tag behind him with a superb display over the New Course to claim his maiden Hong Kong Close Amateur Championship victory during the Lunar New Year break. Over the years Ng has been one of the city's most consistent performers - and although he has represented Hong Kong well on his numerous international appearances, he had yet to win one of the big local titles, despite several very close calls. That all changed at Fanling where he held his nerve to pull away from the field over the closing 36 holes on the always gruelling final day.
After opening with rounds of 71 and 70, 19-year-old Ng held a three-shot lead over Michael Regan Wong, the reigning Hong Kong Open Amateur champion, with a number of the expected contenders close behind. In previous years, Ng, who has refined his game over the past 12 months whilst at university in Australia's Gold Coast, might have let the occasion get the better of him. Not this time. Buoyed by a new-found belief in his abilities, Ng didn't give his opponents a chance, firing solid scores of 70 and 69 over the closing two rounds to finish with aplomb and cement a wire-to-wire victory.
"This is my biggest win so far and it's a relief to have finally done it," said a clearly delighted Ng, who finished runner-up to Martin Liu 12 months ago. "To be honest I feel like I was pretty lucky - I am in the process of changing my swing a little and I got away with a few loose shots, but it's a very good feeling."
Ng is nothing if not modest. On the few occasions he missed a green his short game skills more often than not prevented a bogey. When he did drop a shot, he roared back with an instant birdie. That was the case at the 13th hole during the final round, a point where the championship was still very much up for grabs. After missing a short putt for par at the demanding par-4 12th, Ng stepped onto the tee at the short but potentially deadly par-3 and took dead aim at the pin, which was tucked behind the pond on the left-side of the green. Result: a beautifully-flighted 8-iron to six feet. One putt later and Ng was well on his march to victory. It then became a matter of not if he could win, but by how many. The answer, which arrived after a calm two-putt from the back of the 18th green, was an imposing seven.
Ng's win gives him an invite to October's Hong Kong Open, the SAR's oldest professional sporting event and one he has yet to participate in. But herein lies a conundrum. The Normura Cup, Asia-Pacific's most prestigious amateur team event, takes place in the United Arab Emirates on the same week - and if selected to represent Hong Kong, Ng will find himself on the plane to Abu Dhabi as opposed to teeing it up again at Fanling for the European and Asian Tour co-sanctioned event.
"It's probably too early to start thinking about that," said Ng. "Either way it's a great position to be in."
As he was during the three days of the Close, Ng is absolutely right about that.
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