Defending champion Prayad is fit and ready to go #SingOpen2018

Wed 17 Jan 2018

Defending champion Prayad is fit and ready to go #SingOpen2018

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Sentosa, Singapore, January 17: Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand is feeling physically fantastic and he is ready to defend his title at the US$1 million SMBC Singapore Open that starts tomorrow.

Last year, the 51-year-old held off the challenge of the likes of compatriot Phachara Khongwatmai and Korea’s Younghan Song, golfers who are a fraction of his age, to lift the coveted trophy at the Asian Tour season-opener.

Prayad is one of the most successful golfers on the Asian Tour with 10 titles under his belt. He has also been immensely successful on the Japan Senior Tour, winning four times and topping the money list for the second consecutive year.

The affable golfer attributed his good form to a clean and healthy lifestyle. He sleeps early, exercises regularly and refrains from smoking as well as drinking.

Marquee golfers Sergio Garcia of Spain and Ryo Ishikawa of Japan will also be teeing off at the Sentosa Golf Club.

Garcia will be remembered for winning the Masters in 2017. He started well in Singapore last year, finishing tied-11th, and his form led to a win in Dubai before his victory at Augusta National Golf Club. He’ll be looking to put on a solid display of golf this week.

Ishikawa has recovered from his back injury that has hampered his tenure on the PGA Tour. He is now feeling 100 per cent and he will be focusing his efforts on the Japan Golf Tour in 2018, which opens with the SMBC Singapore Open.

The SMBC Singapore Open is jointly-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour Organization.

Did you know:

  • Prayad Marksaeng was never in the top-10 in the first three rounds of the 2017 SMBC Singapore Open. He was four shots off the leader, Adam Scott, going into Sunday.
  • He waited for two hours before he was confirmed as the champion. Prayad was in the earlier groupings and he had the privilege of enjoying his lunch while seeing the leading pack falter.
  • Prayad will be teeing off on Thursday with 2016 SMBC Singapore Open champion Younghan Song and Japan Golf Tour Organization 2017 prize money list leader Yusaku Miyazato.
  • Apart from his win in 2017, Prayad’s best performance at the Singapore Open was tied-10th in 2010.
  • Sergio Garcia is competing at the SMBC Singapore Open for the second consecutive year. In 2017, he carded a five-under-par 279 total and finished tied-11th.
  • The Spaniard has been very successful in the region. He won the 2012 Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia, 2013 Thailand Golf Championship in Thailand and the 2015 Ho Tram Open in Vietnam.
  • Garcia is nominated for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award this year for his Masters triumph in 2017.
  • Ryo Ishikawa is the youngest player to win on any of the major tours worldwide. He was 15 years old when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.
  • He turned professional when he was 16 years old and has won 14 times on the Japan Golf Tour so far.
  • Ishikawa received a special exemption to the Masters in 2013. That year, he finished tied-38th.

Player interviews:

Prayad Marksaeng (Tha)

I play 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.

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 into the season. I think we’re ready for it, so hopefully we’ll have a great year.

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.

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, start with win here.

Ends.

About Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Rolex (Official Timekeeper), Panasonic (Official Consumer Electronics), ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), Titleist (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Partner), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official International Media Partner), Wall Street Journal (Official International Media Partner) and Sentosa in Singapore which is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.

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