Sentosa, Singapore, January 18: India’ Jeev Milkha Singh is banking on the feel-good factor as he seeks another victory at the SMBC Singapore Open which tees off on Thursday.
The six-time Asian Tour winner, who is also a board member of the Tour, emerged victorious at the Lion City in 2008 and is hoping for a repeat at Sentosa Golf Club which has been voted by Asian Tour players as the Best Golf Course in 2016.
Compatriot Gaganjet Bhullar, who has always looked up to Singh for inspiration, could pose a threat to Singh’s title ambitions again. Bhullar defeated Singh in Indonesia last year and is ready to do so again, not only against Singh but also the stellar field that includes Spain’s Sergio Garcia as well as Major winners Adam Scott and Ernie Els.
Fresh off a well-deserved break, Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung cannot wait to get his season started at the SMBC Singapore Open, which is celebrating its 51st edition this year.
Although Fung has not made the cut in his last five appearances here, the Malaysian is hoping to put an end to that dismal record having finished the 2016 season in a career high of 12th place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
China’s Liang Wen-chong, who finished third at the SMBC Singapore Open last year, will be bidding for another win in Singapore following his last victory in the Republic a decade ago. That victory played a pivotal role in seeing him become the first Chinese player to win the Order of Merit in 2007 and he is looking for another repeat.
Interesting facts of the day:
- Singh’s victory at the 2008 Singapore Open played a huge role in seeing him win the Asian Tour Order of Merit title for the second time in his career and allowed him to become the first Asian Tour player to surpass US$2million in career earnings. He also became the first player to earn more than US$1 million in a single season that year.
- Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung finished a career-high 12th place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit last season but he has never made a single cut at the Singapore Open. He is hoping to make the cut in his fifth attempt in the storied event.
- Gaganjeet Bhullar’s best result in the Singapore Open came in 2009 where he finished in tied-14th position.
“Whenever you come back to a golf course that has given you a life-changing experience, it’s always very positive.” – Jeev Milkha Singh
Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind)
I am very happy to be back here. It definitely brings back a lot of good memories for me, having won the Singapore Open here in 2008. It was a fantastic year for me in 2008. In fact, 2006 has been great for me too. I won four times that year to win the Order of Merit. It was excellent that I managed to repeat that in 2008, winning some big events in Singapore and Japan. Whenever you come back to a golf course that has given you a life-changing experience, it’s always very positive.
This is a very challenging golf course. It requires a lot of good routines, processes and all sorts of mental strength to stick to what you are supposed to do. A lot of things will come in your mind but you got to come back to what it takes to hit a good golf shot and stick to that. There are a lot of times where you will hit bad shots but you got to take the medicine and move on to the next hole.
Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind)
I am really excited about this week. I have worked hard during the off season. I finished the last season, especially the second half, in a very positive mode so I am really hoping to get on the good side of the draw this week and try to get some momentum going. There have been a lot of positivity during the second half of the season last year, having two wins in four months. I am glad my hard work paid off. It feels great to get what you wanted to after putting in so many hours.
The Serapong course is quite a test for us this week but it’s definitely one of my favourite golf courses in Asia. I remembered playing well here in 2008 and earned my spot for The Open by playing well here in 2009. I have a lot of positive memories of this golf course. I really enjoy myself inside the fence whenever I am here.
Nicholas Fung (Mas)
I think it’s always important to play well in the first event. I have been playing well since last year so I am hoping to continue my good form into this new season. This is my fifth time playing at the Sentosa Golf Club but I have never make the cut before. It’s a very tricky golf course. There are a lot of traps out there. But if you can avoid them, you should be able to play well here.
I finished 12th on the Order of Merit last year. It was the best I have had in my career.
I am not the best with my putter on Tour but I think I am one of the straightest hitters here. If I can keep the ball in play and sink a few putts, I believe I can put myself in contention. Apart from winning, my target is also to finish inside top-10 on the Order of Merit. I missed out on that last year so hopefully I can achieve it this year.
Liang Wen-chong (Chn)
I’ve always done well here at the Singapore Open. I finished third last year, just two shots behind Song. I’ve made quite a couple of friends here in Singapore and always enjoy their support whenever I tee up here. Singapore will always hold happy memories for me as I’ve won here before and will be looking for my second win here. There are several good players in the field this week and it’s going to be an interesting week to see who eventually wins the title. This course is a very challenging one and also one of the toughest. You got to be really accurate and spot-on around the greens.