January 17: Hear what the players have to say ahead of the 2018 SMBC Singapore Open.
Prayad Marksaeng (Tha)
I played at the end of the year at the Royal Cup and practiced a lot to prepare for this tournament and hopefully play even better than last year and defend my title. I’ll see how I do in the first round, and if I don’t play well then, I’ll skip the driving range and then save my energy a bit and just go for putting and chipping. I’m over 50 years old now, so I need to save more of my energy during the rounds. I’m in good shape and am ready to play against the younger players. I take care of myself quite well – I sleep early, don’t drink or smoke, exercise and practice a lot to prepare myself. I don’t feel any pressure. I come here to try and play better, entertain the crowd, and show that even at 53 years old you can play well. I’m just here to try my best, and I’ve been on the golf course for a long time. I want to perform my best for the Asian Tour, Japan Golf Tour and Japan Senior Tour and hope to be the champion for Japan Golf Tour.
Sergio Garcia (Esp)
Last year was amazing but it definitely went by fast. It doesn’t feel like it’s been a year, and we’re back here again. Usually when it goes quickly it’s because it’s fun. I just want to hopefully stay healthy, and try to keep improving on aspects of the game that I know I can get better at. If I can manage to do that then it’s fine. [I’d like to] put myself in situations to win tournaments like I did last year, and situations to win Majors and see if we can pull off another one like we did last year in April. I’ve already had victory this year (at the pro-am)! The course is looking great. Obviously, we’ve had some rain the last couple of weeks, I’ve heard. You can see it; the fairways are soft and the ball is not rolling at all. But the greens are great, they’re rolling very nicely. Probably a little bit slower than they were last year, last year they were really fast, but the course is in very nice shape. Hopefully we’ll get three or four more days of weather like we’ve had the last few days – it should slowly firm up. My off-season was good. I had a little bit of time off, obviously. Practiced a bit, tried to get used to the new equipment with Callaway, and tried to maximise my time as much as possible coming in to the season. I think we’re ready for it, so hopefully we’ll have a great year. I am physically fine. Playing both Tours, you do travel quite a bit. We’ve learned how to manage that time quite well throughout the year, so I have my breaks here and there to make sure that when I get towards the end of the year I’m still excited about playing, and my energy levels are still where they should be. Thanks to that I think we had a good finish last year, with a win and a couple of close calls. Winning is nice – it doesn’t matter which time of the year. Obviously, the earlier you do it, the more confidence you get. Last year I played decently here, had a solid week, and then we went onto Dubai and I managed to win there. So that was obviously a nice kick-start. It would be nice to play well – if we can manage to win here it would be amazing, but even if we don’t, we can still hopefully take a lot of positives out of it. That first week of the year is always interesting, because you’re testing yourself a little bit as you haven’t played tournaments for a couple of months, and everything is a little bit fresher. Hopefully we can get going nicely and have a good, solid week, and build up from there.
Ryo Ishikawa (Jpn)
The people (in Singapore) are so kind. The weather looks like it is going to be alright. Today, I played in the pro-am, which had nice weather. My flight mates are nice and I enjoyed the round. The golf course tough and it is in great shape. The greens are fast, the fairways look great and the rough is so thick. You have to hit fairways and greens. There are hazards all around and the winds are strong. My key focus is to drive well and keep it on the fairway. My game getting better. My last event was November, which was in Japan. I finished tied-second, just a shot behind. I have a good feeling coming into this week. It all depends on my driver and irons. My chipping and putting feels good. So, it’s going to be interesting. I’m 100 per cent. It was tough when I had my back injury. I was only chipping and putting for three months. I had a six month break and when I restarted, it was tough to catch the feeling. Now, my back is normal. This year, I’m going to play on the Japan Golf Tour. The tournament has an elite field. If anybody wins, they’ll get two Tour cards. I’m looking forward to play with Sergio (Garcia) and Gavin (Green). They hit the driver 20-30 yards farther than me. I’m just a normal Japanese, not too tall and not too big. I’m 26 years old and I hope to still have the time to win a major in the next five to 10 years. That’s my big goal. This is my 11th year, but it’s also like a new start for me. Although, my big goal will never change. There are so many Japanese here in Singapore. I was in Orchard Road, my countrymen were greeting me. I’m happy to be here. I want to show my best golf to my fans here. Every Asian golf course has great set ups, which are usually different from Japanese courses. So, I think it’s going to be tough to win here in Serapong for Japanese golfers. It’s going to be my first time playing in Singapore and also in Myanmar next week. No Japanese players have won it, but I think to win, to me it will be very special. I’ve managed to win four times in 2009. That’s my record. I just want to beat that record. I’m just going one step at a time and hopefully, win here.
Micah Lauren Shin (Usa)
The course is really nice but it can get pretty tricky. You have to play every shot really well. I was just practicing and doing what I’ve been always doing. It’s going to feel different because the SMBC Singapore is the first tournament of the year. I do feel the pressure of being the Rookie of the Year, but that’s not going to change how I approach the game. For the tournament, I’m just going to play it and have fun. I’m not expecting too much. For 2018, I’m aiming to be in the top-10 of the Order of Merit list. I also want to be able to qualify for the CIMB Classic.
Poom Saksansin (Tha)
Playing in the EurAsia helped my confidence. It’s good to know that I played well. For this tournament, I won’t worry about making cuts, although, it’s always good to be able to do it. I’m in good form, but the course is a bit long and I’m a bit short. So, it’s going to be difficult for me. I’ll try to hit the long irons well, and putt well. Big target for 2018 is to keep the Asian Tour card. If that’s achieved, I’ll want to be in the top-10 of the Order of Merit.