SINGAPORE, JANUARY 14: Christmas was not only about turkey and trimmings for Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose, he continued to work hard on his game in anticipation of this week’s prestigious SMBC Singapore Open at Sentosa Golf Club.
Rose, Olympic silver medallist Henrik Stenson of Sweden and American Matt Kuchar, who won the bronze four years ago at the Rio Games, will renew their rivalry at the joint-sanctioned Asian Tour and Japan Tour tournament from January 16-19.
Englishman Rose said he was not too sure what to expect at his first event of 2020 but was enthused to be teeing it up at the Serapong, which he described as ‘one of the best courses in Asia.’
“For me it’s really great to be back,” said the world number nine who was tied for ninth at the Singapore Open in 2011.
“(The Serapong at) Sentosa is a golf course widely regarded amongst all of us players. One of the best golf courses in Asia, for sure. Conditioning out here is incredible. It’s got a really nice atmosphere (here) and yeah I am excited about the week.
“We’ll see (how my form is). This is the first time dusting off the clubs for 2020. I felt like I really started to get some momentum in the very back end of the year during the Hero tournament in the Bahamas.
“I felt like that was the tournament I really began to feel like I was hitting much more as I remembered. So when I managed to get the momentum, I didn’t really want to put my clubs down too much during Christmas.
“I went out and played more than I normally would just to keep a little bit of momentum up so I feel very clear with my swing. I haven’t got a plan in place for this year, how I’m going to approach it. I’m just quite excited. I’m just going to do my best to enjoy it and hopefully, it works out.”
World number 26 Stenson said that he really enjoyed the break over Christmas and New Year after winning the Hero World Challenge – an event hosted by Tiger Woods – last December and was keen to launch his 2020 campaign at the SMBC Singapore Open.
“From December to early January, I enjoyed my break,” said Stenson, the first male Swede to win a Major when he triumphed at The Open in 2016.
“I had a great finish to the year – the only really good chance I had to win and I managed to take it. I just had a really big smile on my face and definitely enjoyed my holidays.
“In terms of form, of course, there’s always a little questioning where you’re standing when you play (for the first time in a new year), But hopefully, not too much of the momentum from the Bahamas has worn off and just trying to do all the right things.. I’m very excited to be here and challenge these guys (Rose and Kuchar).
World mumber 24 Kuchar will be making his debut at the SMBC Singapore Open but said he had heard a lot about the city and the golf course from close friend Davis Love III who played the tournament last year.
“It’s one of those appealing cities that everybody wants to go and see and be a part of,” said the nine-time winner on the PGA Tour. “There’s a whole lot of attraction, a whole lot of reason just to come visit and be able to play at a tough course like this that’s so highly regarded.”
Kuchar played two PGA Tour events in Hawaii at the start of 2020 and said that the winds at Sentosa Golf Club would not worry him.
“(After Hawaii) I am probably more prepared for winds of 20 – 40 miles per hour than almost anybody else. We played a lot last year, in different conditions – I’m excited (to be here),” he added.
Thailand young gun Jazz Janewattananond, who moved to world number 38 after his fourth place finish in last week’s Hong Kong Open, will defend the title he won by two strokes last year.
– ENDS –
**Information and images credit to smbcsingaporeopen.com/