Garcia set for Singapore swing

Masters champion Sergio Garcia will begin his 2018 campaign in this week’s SMBC Singapore Open, as he did last year when he finished joint 11th at Sentosa Golf Club.

The Spaniard showed he’s ready to challenge for the title by winning today’s pro-am. He cheekily declared: “I already have a victory this year!”

“It does not feel it is a year and we are back here again. To me last year I played decent here. I had a solid week and then went on to Dubai and managed to win there and that was obviously a nice starting point,” said Garcia, who won the 2017 Omega Dubai Desert Classic two weeks after playing in Singapore before picking up his first Major by beating England’s Justin Rose in a playoff at Augusta National.

“It would be nice to play well. I think if we can manage to win here it will be amazing. Even if we do not, we can still take a lot of positives out of it.

“That first week of the year is always interesting, you are kind of testing yourself a little bit as you have not played tournaments for a couple of months and everything is a little bit fresher. Hopefully we can get going nicely and have a good week and kind of build on from that,” he added.

World number 10 Garcia is the highest ranked player in the elite field with American Pat Perez sitting six spots below him. The 41-year-old Perez is enjoying a career revival after shoulder surgery and is currently second on the FedExCup standings on the PGA Tour after a great start to the season which included victory in the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur.

Garcia’s fellow Major winner, South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, is a Serapong Course specialist having lost in a playoff to Matteo Manassero at the 2012 Singapore Open and finishing joint third a year earlier.

Asian Tour No 1 Gavin Green of Malaysia and his Japan Golf Tour Organisation equivalent, Yusaku Miyazato, are also in the strong line up along with defending champion Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand, 2016 winner Younghan Song, and Yuta Ikeda and Ryo Ishikawa, both multiple winners in Japan.

Green and Ishikawa will play alongside Garcia in one of the marquee groups of the morning session, teeing off the 10th at 8.00am.

An added incentive for the players this week is the opportunity to win a spot in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie in July. The leading four players who finish in the top 12 and ties at the SMBC Singapore Open who are not already exempt will earn places in The Open. Ten players, including Garcia, Perez, Oosthuizen, Green and Miyazto are already exempt for the Major.

The US$1 million SMBC Singapore Open is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation.

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