Singapore: Ryo Ishikawa, Japan’s ‘Bashful Prince’, will be one of the headline acts at this week’s SMBC Singapore Open.
Shugo Imahira, winner of last year’s Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO) Money List, has also confirmed his appearance in the US$1 million event. In fact, the top-five players from that Money List will compete.
South African Shaun Norris, equal second in Singapore last year, and Japanese Yuki Inamori, Kodai Ichihara and Yuta Ikeda, ranked second, third, fourth and fifth respectively on the Money List, have all entered the tournament.
Jointly-sanctioned by the JGTO and the Asian Tour, the SMBC Singapore Open will be played from January 17-20 over the Serapong Course at Sentosa Golf Club, a Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF).
Ishikawa finished 22nd on the Money List but is one of the standout names competing from Japan. He was joint 16th last year in Singapore and will return this year bidding to become the first player from Japan to claim the title since Kesahiko Uchida triumphed in 1976.
A sensation in his teens, the now 27-year-old is playing full-time again on the Japan Tour after a serious back injury in 2016 interrupted his career.
While not adding to his 14 JGTO titles last year, his revival continued with a runner up finish at the Token Homemate Cup and three other top-10 finishes.
Ishikawa shot to fame in May, 2007 when he became the youngest winner on the Japanese circuit at 15 years and eight months with victory at the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup. The event was his first on the Japan Tour. He turned professional in 2008 and won eight tournaments in a two-year spell.
As well as winning last year’s Bridgestone Open, Imahira had six other top-five placings en route to amassing earnings of ¥139,119,332 (about US$1,234,545).
Other notable JGTO members heading to Singapore are Japan’s Yusaku Miyazato, the 2017 Money List winner and elder brother of former women’s star Ai Miyazato, China’s Liang Wenchong, Thai Thanyakon Khrongpha and Filipinos Angelo Que and Juvic Pagunsan, who lost in a sudden-death play-off against Spain’s Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño at the 2011 Singapore Open.
Tickets for the SMBC Singapore Open are on sale via APACTix. Children below the age of 12 can access the event for free – a move aimed at encouraging more juniors to come and watch the golf.