Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa is excited to go up against a world-class field that includes all three Olympic medalists as well as good friend and defending champion Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand when the US$1 million SMBC Singapore Open starts on Thursday.
The Japanese rediscovered his best form with three wins on the Japan Golf Tour last year and is ready to establish himself as one of the genuine contenders for the Singapore showpiece which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO) for the fifth successive season.
Held at the Home of the Asian Tour in Sentosa Golf Club, Serapong Course, the SMBC Singapore Open will feature close to 60 Asian Tour champions from 24 countries with Singapore’s highest ranked professional Quincy Quek spearheading the local charge.
The stellar field at the SMBC Singapore Open is further boosted by the arrival of England’s Justin Rose, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and American Matt Kuchar – the gold, silver and bronze medalists respectively at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, all ranked inside the top-50 in the world.
As an added incentive to the 156 players in the field this week, the SMBC Singapore Open continues to be part of The Open Qualifying Series for the fourth consecutive year.
The leading four players (not otherwise exempt) who finish in the top 12 and ties on the final leaderboard will earn coveted spots at the 149th Open at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Kent, England from July 16-19.
Did you know?
- Ryo Ishikawa headed into the weekend in tied-second place after rounds of 69 and 66 at the SMBC Singapore Open last year. But he fell out of contention with rounds of 73 and 75 to finish in a share of 47th place.
- Ishikawa won three times on the Japan Golf Tour in 2019. He won the Japan PGA Championship in early July, followed through with a triumph in August at the Segasammy Cup and was victorious again in the Golf Nippon Series JT Cup in December.
- The Japanese now holds 17 Japan Tour titles and his return to top form saw him surge into third place on the money rankings in Japan and he would end the year in 80th place on the Official World Golf Ranking.
- Ishikawa shot to fame in May 2007 when he became the youngest winner on the Japanese circuit at 15 years and eight months with victory at the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup. He was still an amateur then and the event was his first on the Japan Golf Tour.
- Ishikawa turned professional in 2008 and won eight tournaments in a two-year spell, four of those victories coming in 2009.
- Olympic gold medal winner and former world number one Justin Rose of England will be playing in the SMBC Singapore Open for the third time. He previously finished tied-ninth and tied-14th in 2011 and 2009 respectively.
- Rose is a one-time Major winner (2013 U.S. Open) and a five-time European Ryder Cup team member (2008, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018). He has also won twice on the Asian Tour – Hong Kong Open (2015), Indonesian Masters (2017)
- Henrik Stenson of Sweden, who won The Open in 2016 and took home the Olympic silver medal that same year, will be making his second appearance in the SMBC Singapore Open. He previously played the prestigious event in 2011 where he missed the cut.
- In addition to his one Major victory, other highlights in Stenson’s career include winning the Players Championship (2009), the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship (2007) and playing on five European Ryder Cup squads (2006, 2008, 2014, 2016, 2018).
- Stenson is a one-time Asian Tour winner, having won the Qatar Masters in 2006.
- Rounding out the Rio Olympics medal-winners is American Matt Kuchar who took home the bronze medal. He will be playing in the tournament for the first time.
- Kuchar’s biggest two victories came at the 2012 Players Championship and the 2013 WGC – Accenture Match Play Championship. He has also played on four American Ryder Cup teams (2010, 2012, 2014, 2016) and five Presidents Cup teams (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019).
- Top-ranked Singapore pro Quincy Quek is coming off his best season as a professional in 2019 winning two titles, the PGM Northport ADT Championship on the Asian Development Tour and the Haikou Classic on the PGA Tour Series China.
Ryo Ishikawa (Jpn)
Jazz is one of the greatest players on the Asian Tour. We played together here last September in Japan and we were one of the final groups and were three to four shots away from winning. It is always a good experience to play with him, he has many things that I don’t have. One thing is his mentality which is much stronger compared to three or four years when I saw him. His game is getting so strong, he used to hit 270 to 280 yards four years ago, but last year he hit more than 300 yards when I played with him. His build and height is less than mine but he is still hitting 300 yards which shows how good he is. I respect him and he has a huge chance to be the best golfer representing Thailand and he has a bright future in golf. I think we are good friends. This year is my third time playing this tournament. I have always enjoyed playing here in Singapore and I am always very excited to play here against world top players like Justin Rose.
I am still trying to get better at hitting off the tee and I have to get better. The three victories last year is just a number, but I am constantly thinking about my golf game. I am concentrating more on my game than the number of wins. I hope I can get better for 2020 this year for the next six months and get into the Olympics. The Tokyo Olympics would be one of the biggest tournaments.
Justin Rose (Eng)
Sentosa is a golf course widely regarded amongst all of us players. One of the best golf courses in Asia for sure. Conditioning out here is incredible. I haven’t been on the golf course itself yet but the condition of the practice areas as I walk down to see the 18th and 9th, and everything just looks perfect down there. The staging of events is really nice coming back into the 9th hole and the 18th hole. It’s got a really nice atmosphere to feel and yeah excited about the week. This is the first time dusting off the clubs for 2020, felt like I really started to get some momentum in the very back end of the year during the Hero World tournament in the Bahamas. I felt like that was the tournament I really began to feel like I was hitting much more as I remembered. So when I managed to get the momentum, I didn’t really want to put my clubs down too much during Christmas. I went out and played more than I normally would just to keep a little bit of momentum up so I feel very clear with my swing. I haven’t got a plan in place for this year, how I’m going to approach it. I’m just quite excited. I’m just going to do my best to enjoy it and hopefully, it works out.
Henrik Stenson (Swe)
I’ve played two times before in Singapore so this is my third time here. It’s been a few years I think it was 2012 last time so it’s great to be back. Like Justin said, it’s a lot of different things here this week, golf course, food, people and there’s another course and everything else, so it’s a very friendly place and happy to be back and start off my season here. I haven’t done a lot of practice over the holidays, as you all know it’s the season all the way around these days. From December to early January, I’m enjoying my break. Had a great finish to the year – the only really good chance I had to win and I managed to take it. I just had a really big smile on my face and definitely enjoyed my holidays. In terms of form, of course, there’s always a little questioning where you’re standing when you take it out from first week of the year, but hopefully, too much of the momentum from the Bahamas hasn’t worn off and just trying to do all the right things to do and the overall chance to be good. I’m very excited to be here and challenge these guys.
Matt Kucher (Usa)
First time for me in Singapore. It’s one of those appealing cities that everybody wants to go and see and be a part of. It’s beautiful, even just out the media centre it’s quite spectacular. Amazing port, amazing city. There’s a whole lot of attraction, a whole lot of reason just to come visit and be able to play at a tough course like this that’s so highly regarded. I’ve talked to so many people. Davis Love was here last year, he’s a friend back home that was telling us all the things to do and visit. I’m excited to be here. I am probably more prepared for winds of 20 – 40 miles per hour than almost anybody else. I suppose there’s still a lot to be seen. We played a lot last year, in different conditions and in a couple of different leagues but I’m excited.