Isaac Lee and Jaymie Ng reigned triumphant at the hallmark 30th EFG/Singapore Island Country Club Junior Tournament.
One led from start to finish. The other came back to win on the final hole of the tournament. But at the end of the week, both Isaac Lee and Jaymie Ng reigned supreme at the 30th anniversary of the EFG/SICC Junior Invitational Golf Championship.
EFG Young Athletes Foundation Scholar and Hong Kong, China junior golf team member Isaac Lee had a wire-to-wire win, while Singapore’s Jaymie Ng won the Girls Overall competition on the very last hole after levelling compatriot and EFG/SGA Elite Squad member Chen Xingtong at four-under-par on the 18th hole.
The JIGC is a World Amateur Ranking event sanctioned by the Singapore Golf Association (SGA), which has been title sponsored by EFG Bank since 2022.
The two are the latest champions to etch their names onto the trophies, joining an impressive list of winners of this prestigious tournament that have gone on to professional careers, including former world no. 1 female player Yani Tseng; PGA and Asian Tour stars C.T. Pan from Taipei, Philippines’ Miguel Tabuena, and Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat. 2015 JIGC champion Singaporean James Leow, who was recently appointed as the EFG/SGA Elite Squad Ambassador, has also turned professional.
Befitting the tournament’s anniversary, the JIGC was played for the first time on the renowned Bukit Course, which will celebrate its own historic milestone next year as the Course turns 100 years old.
Over 60 young golfers from eight nations and territories attempted to conquer the Course’s traditional layout and narrow greens, but Lee and Ng mastered the challenge best.
The 17-year old Lee led throughout, building on a four-under-par first round 67, with another on day two to enter the final day’s action with a commanding lead at eight-under- par. A final 73 brought him to six-under-par for the tournament and a best Gross score of 207.
Last year’s Best SICC Player, 14-year old Troy Storm, lived up to his namesake with a thunderous performance at three-under-par 210, while 16-year old Singaporean Brayden Lee carded a final round three-under-par 68 to finish at 214 (one-over-par) to win the Boys A Division cup (16 to 19 year olds).
In addition to finishing second overall in the Boys competition, EFG/SGA Elite Squad Member Storm won the Lion Cup for Best Singapore Boy. He also defended his best SICC boy player award from 2022. Poramit Sangamee of Royal Bangkok Sports Club won the Boys B Division cup (13 to 15 years old).
Isaac Lee, who entered the tournament as the highest ranked Boy, and who had never played SICC previously, shrugged off the pre-tournament pressure to finish as a convincing champion.
“I had never played Bukit Course before, but it is really good and the layout is quite challenging. The greens are quite different and the grass is not something that we see onmost courses in Hong Kong especially around the fairways.”
Earlier this year Lee was named an EFG Young Athletes Foundation (EFG YAF) beneficiary, a scholarship programme run by EFG Bank that has supported many golfers and aspiring athletes from tennis, equestrian and other sports in Hong Kong for over a decade.
“I was excited to receive this scholarship. It was an important recognition for me because the Foundation has sponsored a lot of great Hong Kong golfers; it’s also a great motivation for me to keep working hard on my game.”
Lee is putting the EFG YAF funding to good use: “The scholarship is helping to open up more opportunities for me, and helping me to gain experience from playing in different countries. It helps me to adapt my game. Mostly I am using it to compete in more tournaments, and more overseas events especially, like the JIGC. I have been able to play competitions like the Macao Open this year, and events in the USA this summer as well.”
The 17-year old Lee will turn 18 in December making him eligible to return in 2024 to defend his title.
“Playing in the JIGC was a great experience. I heard a lot about the tournament from other YAF golfers in Hong Kong so it was important for me to bring the trophy back to Hong Kong,” said Lee whose power and length belies his stature.
A dramatic finish to the Girls Overall championship saw a battle between Jaymie Ng, the top-ranked girl entering the tournament, and 15-year old phenom Chen Xingtong who were level as they came in on 18.
An errant second shot from Xingtong put Ng in the clear and was just reward for a final round fightback as she shot three-under-par 68 today. Ng also won the award as the Best SICC Girl player and the Eagle Cup as the Best Singapore Girl for the week.
Royal Bangkok Sports Club player Aelisa Twiltermsup won the Girls A Division, with Singapore’s Jillian Kuk as first runner-up and Denise Ng, sibling of the Girls champion Jaymie.
Chloe Ng, who carded a hole-in-one in the opening round won the Girls B Division, with Passion Hsu finishing as first runner-up and Amelie Blossom Ng as second runner-up.
“We are excited to host the 30th anniversary of the JIGC and to match the history of this competition with Bukit Course, which will have its own historic centennial celebration in 2024. Congratulations to the winners on well-deserved victories, and especially to our own SICC player Troy Storm who continues to improve his game, and for running the table in finishing as first runner-up in the Boys Overall competition, first in Boys B Division and winning the Lion Cup for best Singapore player this week.”
Albert Chiu, Executive Chairman, Asia Pacific of EFG Bank and Chairman of the EFG Young Athletes Foundation echoed the congratulatory messages and spoke about the larger importance of the tournament.
“EFG is delighted to be title sponsor of this world-class sporting event for elite juniors, especially in its 30th year. We are pleased to lend our support to this long-standing Singapore sports tradition and are especially delighted at the success of our supported athletes, Isaac Lee and Chen Xingtong. To have winners from Hong Kong and Singapore unites our programmes in an ideal way.”
“This tournament is an excellent platform to unite some of the most talented young golfers from around the globe in a showcase of skill and potential. Nurturing and investing in future generations is a major focus for EFG, and this partnership will allow us to continue our work in supporting the development of young and talented athletes in the region,” he added.