A monkey hangs on a sign by the 12th tee box at Singapore Island
Country Club. The R&A had rules at the ready in case one of the
local macaques wanted a little more than a banana.
golfer but he is neither obsessed nor
impatient; he knows that he has a long
way to go before the time is right. For the
moment, he is simply grateful for what
the game has done for him thus far.
“It not only gives me pleasure to
play, it develops me mentally, it helps
my education and it has enabled me to
meet people from everywhere. Overall,
it is not just about golf.”
When there is an obvious culprit or cul-
prits, doesn’t it make sense to deal with
the person or persons directly?”
In the only father and son combina-
tion in the Asian Amateur, the 59-year-
old Taimur Amin, who is the secretary
of the Pakistan Federation and a winner
of no fewer than 17 Pakistan Amateur
championships, returned a 71 as against
the 72 of his 23-year-old son, Hamza.
should emanate from what was only the
second playing of the Asian Amateur.
“I had a wager on when the champion might win the Amateur prize at
Augusta and I said it would be five to 10
years,” said Payne. “For it to happen in
the second year was quite amazing.”
Royle Brogan from the Cook Islands
was another to be caught out. With
the clubhouse way up the hill and the
temperature decidedly hot and humid, he
passed the time in chat by the first tee.
A five-handicap man, Brogan said
that he played at a nine-hole course,
one of only two across the entire Cook
Island archipelago. He had earned one
of the two places in the field by winning
his club championship.
With no coaches on the Cook Islands,
Brogan picked up golf by watching Fred-
die Couples on TV. Then, when Couples
was around rather less, he studied those
magazines offering a good measure of
advice on how to cure a slice. “Everything
I hit,” he said, with an expansive gesture,
“goes from left to right.”
When the time came, he duly followed
the man from Nepal into the trees.
The Amata Spring Country Club in
Chonburi, Thailand, will be the host
country for the 2012 Asian Amateur
championship. Last year, the club was
selected for International Final Qualifying
for the 2011 Open championship and it
will stage the same event again in January for the Open at Lytham.
Hideki Matsuyama continues, as
they say, to come across as the “real
deal.” The defending champion was
up among the leaders from the start.
After winni=ng a slot in The Masters last year, Matsuyama went to Augusta National and not only made the
cut but closed in a share of 27th place
to collect the low amateur award.
Augusta chairman Payne did not
mind saying that he had been surprised that such a success story
“Good shot,” said one contestant to
his younger playing companion who had
just caught the fringe of the green at the
short fourth. The shot’s perpetrator was
not of the same opinion. The shot was
“rubbish” as far as he was concerned.
Elsewhere, a player was looking
askance at his caddie for having given
him the wrong line on the seventh
green. And then giving him another dark
look after the yardages he furnished for
the shot to the eighth had contributed to
the shot splashing into the pond.
As in amateur golf the world over,
there were lessons to be learned.
The first of the competitors was told
by his coach that he should not brush off
what had been a well-meant compliment.
As for the second, he was advised, in no
uncertain terms, that he should be doing
his own lines and yardages and blaming
no one other than himself.
Hamad Mugarak Afnan from Bahrain
was calling for a change in the rules at
the end of an 82 in which he had been
kept waiting at every hole by his playing
companions. “Why,” he asked, “does the
referee need to tell off the entire group?
Sir Nick Faldo, the tournament ambassador, clearly felt that the furniture in
the interview room was entirely apposite
for a knight of the realm such as himself.
“Aha...” he said, “a round table.”
This six-time major winner was
asked what advice he would give to
Sunday’s winner on how to make the
most of his Masters opportunity. “I will
tell him that he should go early to get
over the scare factor and to find out how
to get around the place in general and
the greens in particular,” he began. “As
for his next step, I will suggest that he
goes away for a few days to think about
it before returning for the week itself.”
Faldo marvels at the good fortune
of this latest generation and what they
can gain with the latest technology.
“When I started playing as a profes-
sional,” he recalled, “I still had 12 dif-
ferent makes of clubs in my bag.”
He said that if he were starting out
today, he would be in constant touch
with his clubmakers – in his case,
TaylorMade – and experiment with dif-
ferent clubs and get feedback from the
latest in monitoring equipment.
“Now it only takes you 20 minutes to
find out what works and what doesn’t
work when, in the past, you would be
trying things out for days and weeks
before discarding them.”
Inevitably, he was asked about Tiger
Woods. When can we expect another
player like him?
Faldo made it clear he does not think
that player is around yet. “The next me-ga-star may be 15 years away,” he said.
Asked if he felt Woods might win another major, he inclined to the view that
there is a less than a 50 percent chance:
“He’s fighting his swing, a loss of confidence and a crack in his concentration.”
Grant Moir, from the R&A’s rules
department, had rules covering monkeys
at the ready for the jungle-flanked Singapore Island Country Club. If those instances where a player drove among the
long-tailed macaques cavorting on the
first fairway and his ball disappeared, he
was almost certain to be allowed a free
drop on the grounds that it was highly
probable that a monkey was to blame.
If, on the other hand, the same situation occurred in the rough, it was not
enough for a player to say that it must
have been the monkeys. He needed
some further, more concrete evidence.
As Moir said, it was entirely possible for
a ball to disappear in the rough without
any monkey business. l