Golf

Japan Tour No. 1 Ikeda to play in SMBC Singapore Open

Golfing fans should not be too surprised if they see Yuta Ikeda's name at the top of the leaderboard at the SMBC Singapore Open later this month.

The Japanese golfer is one of the hottest players in the region after finishing last year in brilliant fashion with two wins and six runner-up finishes in a 12-week stretch.

The 31-year-old Ikeda will be looking to carry his red-hot form to the US$1 million (S$1.44m) SMBC Singapore Open, reported asiantour.com.

Ikeda rocketed to world No. 33 and topped the Japan Golf Tour Organisation's (JGTO) Order of Merit, thanks to victories at the Honma Tour World Cup and Casio World Open along with half a dozen second-placed finishes.

The Japan Tour No. 1 also won the Panasonic Open in April and posted four other top-10 finishes in a sensational 2016.

STRONG CONTINGENT

The 16-time winner on the Japan Tour will be itching to take on Major winners Adam Scott and Ernie Els, popular Spaniard Sergio Garcia and top players from the Asian Tour at Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course from Jan 19 to 22. Ikeda finished 23rd in last year's tournament.

The 51st edition of the Singapore Open will be jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and JGTO, with Ikeda heading a strong contingent from the Japanese circuit.

Hideto Tanihara, K T Kim and Song Young Han finished second, third and fourth respectively in the money list and picked up seven titles among them.

Tanihara and Kim matched Ikeda's three victories, while South Korean Song triumphed over then world No. 1 Jordan Spieth of the United States at last year's Singapore Open.

Song is hoping to bring his "A" game to Serapong for the defence of his crown.

He said: "Having won the SMBC Singapore Open, it will allow me to start the new season as a defending champion and it will put me in a great frame of mind."

golfSingaporesentosa