We sit down with Chum Tun Jang, who first qualified for the MercedesTrophy as Changi Golf Club’s representative, and talk about his journey to Stuttgart.
GV: Leading up to the final in Stuttgart, what was your preparation like?
TJ: Aside from my usual weekly games, about two weeks before leaving for Germany, I made it a point to practice my short game and putting. Concurrently, I lost some weight in the process so that was good.
How did the championship courses play?
The courses we played at Schloss Nippenburg and Solitude Golf Club were long with many bunkers and the grass would bite the ball, not letting it roll more than a foot upon landing on the green. The first was not an easy course. It was very hilly with bunkers everywhere. Furthermore, we did not get a practice round beforehand.
How about the weather?
I would say this was the biggest challenge for me. Playing in coldwear affects my swing so I just wore another layer to keep warm enough without affecting my game too much. Luckily, we had to walk for all the games so that kept us warm in the 7 to 9 °C weather. After two days I was quite ‘pancit’ (means ‘flat’ in Malay) but thankfully there was a break on the third day.
What were your teammates like?
I was the average player in Team South Asia. My Indonesian and Malaysian counterparts were inconsistent; one round they would be doing great and the next, not so good. I guess you can say I kept the ship steady in the team.
What gave you the edge over your opponents and even your teammates?
Honestly, I don’t think I played very well and simply aimed to play to my handicap (of 13). If I had to say, my edge was that I kept my drives below 200 metres. The cautious approach allowed me to focus on my short game while others were hitting far and into bunkers.
Throughout this whole experience, did you ever see yourself making it to the final?
Honestly, every step of this journey has been a surprise for me. During the Singapore qualifiers, I didn’t play very well and again, just to my handicap. Playing to your handicap was not considered good by past records so being the second runner-up and going on to Australia was a surprise for me as well.
We understand you brought your wife along to Stuttgart. Is she a keen golfer as well?
Yes, she is but does not play often due to her busy work schedule. She came with me to Australia for the Asian qualifiers and had a work meeting. It was great to squeeze in a round of golf with her and her friends during our trip there.
How did you feel when your team was annouced as champions?
I did not know how to feel initially as I was not expecting it. Just moments before the annoucement, we were celebrating with my Indonesian teammate and his fantastic prize for winning the Nearest To Line – an all expense paid trip to the 2018 Open with a round of golf with a pro.
But once it set in, I was overwhelmed with euphoria. I recall just before leaving Singapore, the Changi Golf Club team told me not to let Singapore down and my win did all of them proud. Even more so considering that no one from Singapore has ever won the World Final.
Now that you have won the MercedesTrophy World Final, would you say you have a lifetime “license” to play golf?
If I ever win a Mercedes-Benz as a hole-in-one, maybe. (Laughs)