Top stars to vie for Singapore Open

Sentosa (Singapore), Jan 23 (IANS) World number one Jordan Spieth of the United States and Major winners including Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke will be among the title contenders when the Singapore Open tees off at the Sentosa Golf Club here next week.

The tournament will also feature the best players from the Asian Tour, including four Order of Merit champions. Making a return after a three-year absence, the Singapore showpiece will be co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO). It will be played at the Serapong Course of the Sentosa Golf Club, which is also the home of the Asian Tour, from January 28-31.

Spearheading the Asian Tour challenge will be merit winners Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand, Philippines’ Juvic Pagunsan, China’s Liang Wen-chong and India’s Jeev Milkha Singh, who won the 2008 edition.

No fewer than 20 Asian Tour winners including Malaysia’s Danny Chia, Singapore’s Mardan Mamat, Chinese Taipei’s Lin Wen-tang, India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar and Philippines Angelo Que are expected to put up a stiff challenge against the strongest players from the JGTO and across the globe. Multiple winner Shingo Katayama and Korea’s K.T. Kim, who triumphed five times during an extraordinary 2015 season on the JGTO are also among the genuine contenders.

Singh, a two-time Asia number one, will return to one of his favourite hunting ground at Sentosa Golf Club where his victory in 2008 set him on his way towards clinching the prestigious merit title then. The Indian, who captained Team Asia at the EurAsia Cup last week, is also one of Asia’s most decorated and global players, having won six times on the Asian Tour and multiple times in Japan and Europe.

“Singapore has always been one of my favourite stops. I’ve many happy memories there and of course, winning the Singapore Open title in 2008 was definitely very special. I look forward to playing well there again,” Singh was quoted as saying in an Asian Tour statement.

Pagunsan will also be looking to settle some old scores at the Singapore Open after having to settle for second place at the 2011 edition when he lost in a Monday play-off.

Despite his defeat, the Filipino managed to pick up one of his biggest career prize money wins and also the coveted Order of Merit crown in 2011, which made his the first player from the Philippines to achieve that feat.

The Singapore Open will feature the top 60 players from the Asian Tour, top 60 from the JGTO, leading Singapore professionals and amateurs and invitees including players from the top 50 in the world rankings.