No rest, no regular caddie, but Spieth's still the one to watch
Tired and missing his caddie, Spieth is still expected to live up to the favourite's tag
If there was any doubt that Jordan Spieth is golf's man of the moment, it was dispelled just after the trio of Kim Kyung Tae, Yusaku Miyazato and Yuta Ikeda sat down to address the media at the Sentosa Golf Club yesterday.
They spoke in Japanese, and the name "Jordan Spieth" - uttered by both Kim and Miyazato - sprang out even without the translator's intervention.
Fluent in Japanese because he plays there most of the time, South Korean Kim and Miyazato will tee off in the first round at 7.50am today at the famed Serapong course, alongside the 22-year-old American sensation.
Without being prodded, they addressed the issue of the sport's top man, who is the red-hot favourite to win the SMBC Singapore Open.
Kim spoke of wanting to prepare for a good round with Spieth, while Miyazato hoped to be able to focus on his own game amid all the fuss that always accompanies the marquee flight.
Spieth enjoyed a sensational 2015, with wins at the US Masters and the US Open.
He stumbled at the third hurdle, missing a three-way play-off by a single putt on St Andrews' 18th hole to finish tied for fifth at the Open Championship.
The Texan may have missed out on joining Ben Hogan on the list of golfers who have won the first three Majors on the trot, but he is the man golfers want to catch, and fans want to watch.
Some, like Kim and Miyazato, want to do both.
"When I first saw the (draw), I was happy that I'm going to get to play with Jordan. It doesn't often happen that you get to play with the world No. 1," said Kim, ranked 62nd in the world.
"I heard that his putter is very hot...
"I'm expecting (to see some) good putting from him, but out on the golf course, it's not just a matter of competing with him but against all the golfers (who are playing).
"I'm not exactly in good condition, but I'm expecting a good round with Jordan.
"I'll be watching how he putts as I know he's very good with his short game. But I can also play some good golf."
Miyazato was perhaps more emphatic with his statement.
And the world No. 99 also displayed confidence in his own ability.
"I'd like to watch KT and Jordan play and hope that I can play well, too," said the 35-year-old Japanese, who called Sentosa's Serapong course "beautiful and fantastic".
"It's very rare to be able to play with the No. 1 in the world, but my aim is to win."
The Serapong Course was recently rated by Golf Digest as the 58th best in the world and the top course in the region, but the pros were acutely aware of the dangers that lie beneath its beauty.
"It is a tough course, some long holes playing against the wind, some short holes with the wind, it's going to be tough," said Ikeda.
But Sentosa Golf Club president Low Teo Ping believes that Spieth is well-equipped to tackle Serapong, which is flanked by water and peppered with obstacles.
"At some courses that play long, length gives a golfer a distinct advantage but, while this course requires a lot of accuracy, it is not one-dimensional," said Low.
"(Spieth) isn't the longest of golfers, but he does hit it long but, more importantly for this course, he is a straight and accurate golfer.
"And, of course, he's also got that putter of his."
The New Paper revealed yesterday that there will be no Michael Greller alongside Spieth in Singapore, after the trusted caddie injured his knee at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship that ended last Sunday.
Rickie Fowler lifted the trophy in the Middle East, and Spieth, who tied for fifth, duly proclaimed his countryman as the hottest golfer in the world at the moment.
He also admitted he was fighting fatigue after a packed schedule over the last year or so.
But neither the personnel setback nor his humility or his athletic health seems to have dulled Spieth's aura.
Said Low: "He is definitely the one golfer people won't want to miss here."
SPIETH ON SENTOSA’S SERAPONG
“This golf course is ranked in the top 60 in the world, which is pretty special. Once Thursday starts, I don’t mind the humidity (and heat), I mean, I am used to it in the summer in Texas.
“I’ve looked over the yardage book already and it looks like a tricky golf course, so I’m going to need to get as much information as I can. I’m sure the wind will play a factor, and sometimes the downfall in playing a couple of weeks in a row, where you have to travel long distances is that you don’t get the preparation or knowledge of the golf course, but we can still go with it.”
1st round tee times*
7.30am: Nobuhiro Masuda, Koh Dengshan (Sin), Daisuke Maruyama
7.40am: Zaw Moe, Chawalit Plaphol, Tetsuji Hiratsuka
8.10am: Antonio Lascuna, Toshinori Muto, Scott Barr
9am: Itthipat Buranatanyarat, Gregory Foo (A) (Sin), Chang Yikeun
9.20am: Kazuhiro Yamashita, Choo Tze Huang (Sin), Lee Taehee
12.30pm: Jamie Donaldson, Koumei Oda, Thaworn Wiratchant
12.40pm: Yang Yong Eun, Shingo Katayama, Jeev Milkha Singh
1pm: Daniel Chopra, Brendan Jones, Shaun Norris
1.50pm: Danthai Boonma, Yoshitaka Takeya, Unho Park
2pm: Tatsunori Nukaga, Abdul Hadi (A) (Sin), Jordan Zunic
2.10pm: Johnson Poh (Sin), Ryu Hyun Woo, Yu Morimoto
2.20pm: Lee Sang Hee, Joshua Ho (A) (Sin), Yuki Inamori
7.30am: Mardan Mamat (Sin), Satoshi Kodaira, Shiv Kapur
7.40am: An Byeong Hun, Hideto Tanihara, Prayad Marksaeng
7.50am: Jordan Spieth, Kim Kyung Tae, Yusaku Miyazato
8am: Darren Clarke, Yuta Ikeda, Arjun Atwal
8.10am: S.S.P Chawrasia, Katsumasa Miyamoto, Miguel Tabuena
8.20am: Liang Wenchong, Hiroyuki Fujita, Wang Jeunghun
9am: Lam Chih Bing (Sin), Yasuki Hiramoto, Choi Hosung
1.50pm: Brett Munson, Mitchell Slorach (Sin), Shintaro Kobayashi
2pm: Tomoyo Ikemura, James Leow (A) (Sin), Matthew Griffin
2.10pm: Lee Won Joon, Mikumu Horikawa, Jerome Ng (Sin) *Selected times
SMBC Singapore Open
When: Today to Sunday Where: Sentosa Golf Club, Serapong Course Prize money: US$1 million ($1.43m) Star players: Jordan Spieth, Darren Clarke, Jamie Donaldson, Yang Yong Eun, Mardan Mamat Tickets: Free entry for first round today. Tomorrow ($20), weekend ($30) and season pass ($50) available through ticketing partner APACTix.
Free entry for children under the age of five, while those aged between five and 12 will be charged $5.
Getting there: Shuttle buses run at 15-minute intervals from Harbourfront bus interchange from 6am to 7pm (today and tomorrow) and 7am to 5pm (weekend).