Asian Amateur Championship 2011: play underway

Jeremy Ellwood follows the Asian Amateur Championship first round action and meets everyone from a slightly scary monkey to a relaxed six-time Major champ...

Asian Amateur Thursday photos

Play got underway yesterday in the Asian Amateur Championship at Singapore Island Country Club... for nine minutes, before an electrical storm moved in and forced an hour's suspension.

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.


Preview and practice days

Thursday action and behind the scenes

Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly. He is an expert on the Rules of Golf having qualified through an R&A course to become a golf referee. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played 1,000 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts. He reached the 1,000 mark on his 60th birthday in October 2023 on Vale do Lobo's Ocean course. Put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response