Golf: St Patrick’s Nicholas Sea keeps cool to soar high
He had a four-stroke lead heading into yesterday's fourth and final leg of the Community Youth Golf League but Nicholas Sea knew victory was never going to be a straightforward affair.
The St Patrick's School student's fears were confirmed when he double-bogeyed the 398m, par-four first hole at the Masters Course of Laguna National Golf and Country Club.
Rather than crumble under the pressure, the 16-year-old regrouped in impressive fashion.
He went on to card a 10-over 82 for a winning total of 39-over 281 to finish seven strokes ahead of Phone Thant Ko Ko of St Gabriel's Secondary School and retain the overall title besides claiming the Tay Cheng Khoon Eagle award.
The award, which recognises young golfers for displaying good attitude, progress and commitment, takes its name from the late former Straits Times sports editor who founded the Youth Golf Programme. It was started in 1997 to introduce youth without the means to own golf club memberships to the sport and has since benefited close to 5,000 students.
"I definitely felt stressed out when I had bad holes, but I played against myself and not against my friends," said Nicholas.
"I really tried to take my eyes off other people's performances and just focus on my game."
Concentrating only on his game did not come naturally to Nicholas, but a speech by a national golfer 1½ years ago was what sparked his change in mentality.
While he cannot remember who gave the speech, the words have stuck.
"Anybody else will say I'm going to beat this guy… but he didn't mention anything about that," recalled Nicholas. "When I was younger, I had this mindset where I had to beat this person, that person is challenging me. But after that (speech), I realised it's about ourselves, and it hit me hard."
Over the past year, the 4.0 handicapper's approach to the game has helped lift unnecessary pressure.
Nicholas also meditates to keep his cool on the course and this has been especially helpful in nerve-racking situations.
He got into golf nine years a