ADT Players' Championship looks an open affair
'Grand Old Dame' set to tease ADT golfers
Driver, three-wood, five-wood. That's what a local pro used to reach the par-five in three yesterday.
And if that put some fear into the golfer, it also became the talking point at the Asian Development Tour (ADT) gala dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel last night.
The Raffles Country Club's (RCC) Palm course - venue for the four-round ADT's US$100,000 ($144,000) Players' Championship starting today - is a mammoth 6,200 metres long.
"We've pushed back tee boxes for five holes," said RCC captain Patrick Low, "and it will be a good test for the pros."
With some golfers looking ahead to next week's US$1m Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Singapore Open at Sentosa's Serapong in the company of world No. 1 Jordan Spieth, the course will provide a good challenge for the aspirants.
Big names like ADT Order of Merit champion Casey O'Toole of the United States, who with four others were honoured at the dinner, Thailand's Pavit Tangkamolprasert and Phachara Khongwatmai, Taiwan's Chan Shih-chang and Sweden's Daniel Chopra are used to such course lengths.
So is Singapore's No. 1 Mardan Mamat, who is comparatively not long off the tee but makes it up with the rescue wood and strong mid-irons.
Mardan's long-time World Cup partner, Lam Chih Bing, hits a massive drive, but a long period of inactivity and having been down with dengue fever recently mean he is not in his groove yet.
Singapore can also bank on Quincy Quek, who gained his Asian Tour card last week, and Koh Dengshan, for whom the familiarity of the Palm course is a big advantage.
A host of young Indians and Thais, and Filipino veterans Frankie Minoza and Antonio Lascuna are also hailed as strong contenders for the title in the curtain-raiser for the new season.
Other notable players in the field include Malaysia's Gavin Green, Taiwan's Hsieh Chi-hsien, who finished second on the 2015 money list, American Berry Henson and Masaru Takahashi of Japan.
Singapore's rookie pro Johnson Poh withdrew yesterday because of a left ankle sprain.
O'Toole, who enjoyed a successful 2015 season, thanks to one victory and nine top-10s, is hopeful of riding on his recent run of form to secure a second ADT victory.
"I am very excited to come back to Singapore," said the 25-year-old American.
"I played well here at the Asian Tour event a few months ago and my game's feeling good right now.
"I just claimed a runner-up finish in Sabah two weeks ago. I hope to play well again this week.
"We've got a great field and it's one of the best that I have seen on the ADT."
But with the Palm course's - known as the "Grand Old Dame" because it is 31 years old - notoriety of having reduced champions to also-rans, all 144 players enter the event on a level playing field.
So it is anybody's game come Saturday.