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Choo finds form for Dongfeng Nissan Cup

Choo Tze HuangHONG KONG, Nov 19 - Singapore's Choo Tze Huang admits his first year on OneAsia has been a bit of a struggle, but making the cut at his national open earlier this month and second place in the ASEAN Tour's Gowa Classic in Indonesia at the weekend could be the catalyst to spark his fledgling professional career.

Choo has been called up to represent the Asia-Pacific select side that takes on Team China in the Dongfeng Nissan Cup next week, with the selectors conscious his recent experience of team golf as an amateur will stand him in good stead for OneAsia's Ryder Cup-style event at the CTS Tycoon Club in Shenzhen.

The competition was held for the first time last year when the Asia-Pacific won 12 1/2 to 11 1/2 on a gripping final day of singles after the teams were level 3 - 3 following the fourball matches and 6 - 6 following the foursomes.

"I feel very honoured to be part of the Asia-Pacific team to play against China," he said. "I'm really looking forward to it and hopefully playing good and going out there and helping the team to victory."

Choo only turned professional last year and made his way onto OneAsia via Q-School, but has found the going tough. He has made just one cut in six tournaments despite showing occasional glimpses of the form that made him one of Southeast-Asia's best amateurs.

"My game has been really up and down and I think it's all because of my mental game," he said. "It was all in my head. I was trying too hard and putting a lot of pressure on myself and not letting myself go with the flow."

Take the brutally tough Kolon Korea Open last month, for example. Choo opened with a disappointing 13-over par 84, but bounced back with a 72 on the Friday -- one of the best rounds of the day -- at a tournament where only five players finished under par.

Choo completed a scholarship at the University of Washington in September 2011 before heading to Hong Kong to play in the Putra Cup, where he took individual honours and helped his country win the team title.

The 25-year-old also won both individual and team honours in the same competition in 2006, as well as claiming the team title in 2008.

He played for the Singapore national team from 2001 to 2011 and played in two SEA Games, two Asian Games and two Eisenhower Trophy teams.

"The four years I was at college really taught me about playing as a team and being part of a team and I really miss that," said Choo, who feels the matchplay format will also suit his frame of mind.

"I kind of like it because you don't have to go out there and worry about posting an 18-hole score, but can go out there and play hole-by-hole and try to beat the opponent you're playing against.

"It's a nice format because you can be aggressive … there are opportunities to really go for putts and intimidate your opponent."

Singapore golf fans were delighted when Choo was given a sponsor's invite to take part in the European Tour co-sanctioned Barclays Singapore Open two weeks ago and he justified that faith by making the cut alongside some of the biggest names in the game.

"Definitely it was a big confidence boost for me -- playing on a hard course in a big event with the big guys from around the world -- and that definitely gave me a mental boost as well," he said.

"I really went out on the first three days -- actually all four days -- to enjoy myself and just play. I controlled my emotions really well, but going into the last round … I was trying too hard on the front nine, and the score showed."

Still, making nearly $20,000 for finishing tied 56th will give him some breathing space before he heads down under for the final events on the OneAsia 2012 calendar -- the Emirates Australian Open and the Australian PGA Championship, presented by Coca-Cola.

"I haven't played in Australia for four or five years so it's going to be a challenge," he said.

"There are different conditions, a different way of playing golf there, so I am looking forward to it."

Before then, however, there is the matter of the Dongfeng Nissan Cup from November 29 to December 2 and Choo knows he will have to bring his 'A' game.

"China is a strong team. They have grown so much in the last few years and have so many good players now. Going up against them will be a good challenge and a good learning experience."

Related stories:
16/11/2012 - Laycock relishes Dongfeng team challenge
15/11/2012 - Asia-Pacific team blends youth with experience
08/11/2012 - China picks strong team to tackle Asia-Pacific
31/10/2012 - China's best to take on rest of Asia-Pacific