By Sasha Christian/ Red Sports
Jonathan Woo, 23, is the only golfer to win the Sports Excellence (Spex) Scholarship.
Last year, Jonathan, a student of University of Oregon, won the Putra Cup (South-East Asian Team Championships) Individual title and made the cut for the 2012 Barclays Singapore Open, an event co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tour.
Jonathan is now in Myanmar representing Singapore in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
We caught up with Jon – with the help of the internet – for an interview.
Sasha Christian: You recently received the SpexScholarship. What was your reaction?
Jonathan: I’m pretty thrilled to be one of the recipients of the SpexScholarship. I was pretty excited when I heard the news because I didn’t really think that I could be one of the shortlisted athletes because of the large number of other athletes from different sports who applied for it.
What was the process of applying for it?
Jonathan: I basically filled up an application with all my achievements over the years for the initial shortlist, after which I was interviewed over Skype as I was away in the United States.
What does getting this scholarship mean to you?
Jonathan: It’s good to know that a lot of my hard work has paid off, and it feels good to be recognized for my good performances over the last couple of years. It means a lot to me because I know that I have the support of the SSC (Singapore Sports Council) to fulfill my ambitions of becoming a professional golfer.
You won your first American collegiate individual title earlier this year. What was going through your mind at that time?
Jonathan: I honestly didn’t think much of it at the time. All I wanted to do was to continue progressing in my golf game, and to try and win a couple more events in college. Although looking back, I’m proud to be the first Singaporean to win a collegiate event in golf. Hopefully it is the first of many to come for me.
As a university student, how is training like for you?
Jonathan: Training is tough because I am constantly competing with my teammates for spots on the traveling squad. The expectations of my coach are also pretty high for me as an individual, and also for the team. I have scheduled practices for three hours a day after class, Monday to Saturday, and 6am workouts twice a week.
Have there been any difficulties along the way?
Jonathan: Training is a little bit constricted in terms of hours per week because it is all controlled by the NCAA. Furthermore, I have to also deal with schoolwork at the same time, which takes up a lot of time and energy.
I also had some difficulty adjusting to the climate when I first went over two and a half years ago, but ever since then I’ve adapted pretty well and I’m used to the cold and wet weather in Oregon.
When and how did you start playing golf?
Jonathan: I started playing golf when I was 4. My dad just handed me a toy club in our garden and somehow I was able to hit plastic balls at that young age. Ever since then, golf has been a great opportunity for me to excel and use my athletic ability.
With the SEA Games, what are your goals?
Jonathan: I’m aiming for a medal during the games, hopefully I have a good feeling that week and play well so that I can achieve this gold. I’m also aiming for a Gold medal in the team event because I believe that my teammates are well capable of getting a medal if we all play well.
What keeps you going in the sport?
Jonathan: My parents have given me the drive to improve myself and my golf game. They sacrificed many things and have always supported me so that I could play the game of golf and all I want to do is make them proud of my accomplishments.
I’m also constantly trying to better my game because I’m always learning new things about golf even though I’ve been playing the sport for such a long time.
What are your plans after you finish school?
Jonathan: I plan to turn professional when I’m done with school. Hopefully I’ll be able to make a name for myself playing regionally on the Asian Tour, before moving on to the PGA Tour and competing with the best in the world. It’s always been a goal of mine to play professionally and hopefully I’ll be able to achieve this dream when I am done with school.