Singapore: Shingo Katayama and Kim Kyung-tae will lead a power-packed contingent from the Japan Tour into next week’s SMBC Singapore Open.
Katayama and Kim, world ranked 58th and 59th respectively, will be joined by 12 other champions from the 2015 season, including Japan Open title-holder Satoshi Kodaira.
They will pose a serious threat to world number one Jordan Spieth of the United States, fellow Major men Darren Clarke and YE Yang and the best of the Asian Tour.
The Singapore Open is being co-sanctioned by the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO) for the first time and their top players are keen to put on a show at Sentosa Golf Club, a Golf Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
The colourful Katayama has won 29 times on the JGTO, including the Taiheiyo Masters last year, topped the money list on five occasions and earned more than US$17 million in prize money.
The Japanese player, who will turn 43 on the final day of the SMBC Singapore Open, has said that his form is still improving and that he ‘would like to win 35 times in total by the time I am 45’.
Korean Kim, a former top-20 player, has rediscovered the midas touch since his success at the Thailand Open last June.
Subsequent victories in the Musee Platinum Open, Fujisankei Classic, Asia-Pacific Golf Championship and Mynavi ABC Championship saw him top the JGTO Order of Merit for the second time.
Last Sunday he claimed the scalp of world number 33 Bernd Wiesberger in the EurAsia Cup clash between Asia and Europe, winning their singles match 3&2 in Kuala Lumpur.
Kim reached a career high of 18th on the rankings in 2011 but swing changes, aimed at generating more length for a campaign on the PGA Tour, resulted in a lean period during which his world standing plummeted.
“Last year I asked my (senior) coach to help me and he reminded me of the swing I had last time. Now I have a good mental image of my swing. That is why I am doing well,” explained Kim.
Kodaira’s victory in the Japan Open was his third on the JGTO and the 26-year-old said he’s pleased to get the chance to add to his tally at the SMBC Singapore Open.
“I am very happy to see that the Singapore Open is co-sanctioned by the JGTO and the Asian Tour. It is a big tournament and I am looking forward to playing,” he said.
As well as Katayama, Kim and Kodaira 2015 JGTO Tour winners Michael Hendry, Adam Bland, Daisuke Kataoka, Liang Wen-chong, Toshinori Muto, Prayad Marksaeng, Yuta Ikeda, Kim Hyung-sung, Hideto Tanihara, Yusaku Miyazato and Hwang Jung-gon will all compete at Sentosa from January 28-31.
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