seag.logo.3When his uncle Kyi Hla Han, a former player and current Chairman of the Asian Tour, became Asia’s number one in 1999, Phone Pyae Chan Han of Myanmar was barely one year old.

Little did he know he would grow up loving the game and eventually follow the same footsteps as his uncle at the 28th South East Asia (SEA) Games in Singapore this week.

While he may still be a diamond in the rough, Han is already aspiring to make an impression on the big stage and match his uncle’s achievements one day.

“I wasn’t sure if I can do it actually but as I keep playing and getting better in the game, I thought I could be like him one day,” said the 16-year-old Han, who is currently studying at the IMG academy in Florida.

Han is one of the seven golfers, which include four men and three women, representing Myanmar in the team and individual events at the SEA games, which are played at the Serapong course at the Sentosa Golf Club from June 9 to 12.

“I’m very excited about my campaign this week. It’s my first SEA games and that got me a little nervous on the first day but I feel very proud to be flying the country’s flag this week. It has been a good experience so far,” said Han.

While hailing from a golfing family may bring about inevitable pressure, the young Han says he is taking it all in his stride and just wants to play to his true potential.

“Kyi hla has been a great inspiration and he makes me want to try and be like him, or maybe better than him, one day. I was lucky to have him on my bag during the practice round. He gave me a lot of good advices and he has been really helpful and encouraging.

“I was swinging well. Kyi Hla told me to concentrate, focus on every hole and not take too many risks. He told me to keep to my tempo too. The family didn’t put too much pressure on me as well. They just want me to enjoy the game,” added Han.

When asked about the burgeoning golf scene in the region, Kyi Hla expressed his confidence that golf will continue to grow not only in Myanmar but also the rest of Asia.

“The SEA games is a very good platform for them to gain experience and it will definitely prepare them well when they play on the Asian Tour or the Asian Development Tour in future,” said Kyi Hla.

“I didn’t get to play in the SEA Games as it was not in the program during my time but it reminds me of the Putra Cup we played back in those days. It’s definitely great to see more and more young players coming out here to play. I will try to help them as much as I can,” added Kyi Hla.

Since golf was introduced in the SEA Games in 1985, a host of Asian Tour players have shine on the regional platform before launching their professional careers on the region’s premier Tour.

They include Thai stars Thongchai Jaidee (1995 Team Gold), Thaworn Wiratchant (1987 Team and Individual Gold), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (2007 Individual Silver) and Chawalit Plaphol (1995 Team and Individual Gold), Filipino duo Juvic Pagunsan (2001 Individual Gold and 2005 Individual and Team Gold) and Jay Bayron (2005 Team Gold), as well as Singapore’s Lam Chih Bing and Mardan Mamat (1993 Team Silver).

Other notable players who have done well in the SEA games and are playing on the Tour today are Thanyakon Khrongpha (2007 and 2009 Team Gold) and Danthai Boonma (2013 Team and Individual Gold) of Thailand, Gavin Green of Malaysia (2013 Individual Silver and Team Bronze), Indonesia’s George Gandranata (2011 Team Silver and Individual Bronze), Singapore’s Choo Tze Huang (2005 Team Silver and Individual Bronze) and Quincy Quek (2005 Team Silver).

- Advertisement -