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29th April 2015

Wednesday 29 April 2015, Bandar Seri Begawan – With just 3 days left before the annual Baiduri Masters golf tournament, I managed to catch up with Seruji Hj Setia, the defending champion of the Baiduri Masters and golf veteran with almost 30 years of experience, to ask him a few questions.

With multiple championships under his belt, I asked how he felt coming into the 20th edition of the Baiduri Masters. “As with every year, I am very thrilled and excited to be competing in this year’s Baiduri Masters. Each year, I see many new faces but am also reunited with many familiar faces and friends.” He further elaborated that he looks forward to the competition every year and he always uses the opportunity to improve his golf game amongst his peers.

“The Baiduri Masters is one of the tournaments that all golfers look forward to because of the fantastic hole-in-one prizes. The allure of driving away in one of the cars is too good to resist.” Seruji then went on to state how he is able to enjoy the sport he loves whilst contributing to a good cause – giving back to charity organisations that help people with special needs integrate into society. “Being a father of 4, I understand that being a parent is a full-time job. These charity organisations do so much to help these people, so I’m just glad that I can help in some way.”

Having grown up close to the golf course in Pantai Mentiri, it was inevitable that he would be drawn into the world of golf at a relatively young age during the time. “Back in the late 80’s to early 90’s, golf was and still is considered by some to be a gentlemen’s sport. It was seen as the sport for the slightly more mature generation.” When asked what made him decide to take the sport seriously, he spoke about his aspiration to join the national team to represent Brunei Darussalam in tournaments. “I wanted to join the national team so I could take part in various tournaments in and around the country.”

The sport of golf has evolved over the years and Brunei is no exception. He pointed out the large increase in golf enthusiasts forming teams or groups. According to him, this is a major factor in the increased popularity of the sport as it allows them to host their own friendly tournaments amongst themselves. “Nowadays, the golf scene in Brunei has changed dramatically. We can see a surge of interest in the sport especially amongst the younger generation. Now we can see lots of young teens and young adults taking up the sport and even a significant increase of female golfers.” But with the increase of young participants to the sport comes its own set of unique challenges. “The younger players just have more power to their shots. They are able to drive the ball much further than we were able to when we first started out.”

When asked to recollect his most memorable shot, Seruji went on to explain his one perfect hole-in-one which he was able to sink during one of his practice sessions at the Pantai Mentiri Golf Course earlier on in his career. “In my many years of playing golf, I am able to count the number of hole-in-ones that I have made on one hand.” Speaking on the particular hole-in-one shot, he went on to say, “That particular shot was different from the rest simply because my ball went straight into the hole without ever landing on the green.”

Reminiscing upon his proudest moment during his participation in the Baiduri Masters golf tournament, he spoke of his win during the 2008 Baiduri Masters. “That year, I managed to get a score of 10 under par with no bogeys, only birdies and pars. The conditions during that tournament were perfect.”

Before ending the interview, I asked him for some words of advice that he would like to share with all aspiring golfers. “Practise; practise; and practise. Never stop practising. First get your basics right and pay attention to what the professionals are doing.”

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