World No. 3 golfer Spieth set to play at SMBC Singapore Open
Organisers pull off major coup to woo the 'new kid on the block' to play in Sentosa showpiece in January
Next on the Serapong first-hole tee-box, Jordan Alexander Spieth.
Heard it? It's no pipe-dream. Just believe it.
The new kid on the block in world golf has been lined up for the $1 million Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) Singapore Open in January.
As the biggest marquee name for Singapore's oldest golf tournament, Spieth is certain to wow the crowds.
A source said: "The organisers have been trying to woo Spieth to play in Singapore for some time now.
"Lagardere now owns World Sport Group and is also the company that used to manage Spieth.
"That made the negotiations smooth, and Spieth will be the major trumpcard here."
Only 22, the Texan is already a two-time Major winner, and both his triumphs this year came in sensational style.
On April 9, in the US Masters, Spieth shot an eight-under 64, only one shot behind the course record shared by Nick Price (1986) and Greg Norman (1996).
The following day, he fired a 66 to break the Masters scoring record by posting 14-under 130 through two rounds, one better than Raymond Floyd's 1976 effort.
A last-hole bogey in the final round rued his record-setting 19-under score, and he tied with Tiger Woods' 1997 score of 18 under.
It was the first wire-to-wire victory in the Masters since Floyd's 1976 triumph, and Spieth set the record for most birdies (28) over the four rounds.
On June 21, he won the US Open by carding a one-under 69 to finish with a five-under 275 total, a stroke ahead of Dustin Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen.
He became only the sixth player to win the Masters and the US Open back to back, and the first since Woods in 2002.
The signing of Spieth for the Singapore event from Jan 28 to 31 is a major coup as the event had suffered a three-year hiatus after British bank Barclays pulled the plug after a magnificent eight-year association.
In 2005, Barclays had provided a lifeline - and fillip - to the event by coming on board after the event suffered three barren years.
From 2002 to 2004, the Singapore Open, which was inaugurated in 1961, took a body blow when no sponsor was forthcoming. Battered and bruised, the country's iconic event comes alive again in January with Spieth ready to lift it with his imposing presence.
From the highs of a $6 million prestigious event, the SMBC Singapore Open sees a dip in prize-money, but Spieth's appearance will give it major status.
Obviously, the American sensation will command an appearance fee (touted to be more than the prize-money), but that has become the norm with many Asian countries.
China once forked out more than a million dollars to stage a one-on-one duel between then world No. 1 Tiger Woods and his heir-apparent Rory McIlroy.
When told of Spieth's impending arrival, fanatical fan Eric Ong said: "After the first two years of the Barclays Singapore Open, I stopped going to the Sentosa spectacular.
"Now with Spieth spicing up the event, I will definitely be watching live again."
Although Spieth, the world No. 3, has a fabulous all-round game, it has not always been smooth sailing for the new golfing rave.
He missed the cut at the first two FedEx Cup events before bouncing back with a 13th-place finish at the BMW Championship earlier this month.
But he has always been a treat to watch because of his drive, ambition and commitment, and for being a fighter.
He said recently: "I don't like getting beat in anything. I'm very stubborn, I don't enjoy that and it wasn't fun to watch.
"But when it's not fun, it motivates me. It makes me want to get back to the level I was playing at this whole year, to get to the top of my game.
"And then see if the top of my game can beat the top of anybody's else's game when they're at their best."
- Age: 22
- Born: July 27, 1993 in Dallas, Texas
- Height: 1.85m
- Weight: 84kg
- Turned Pro: 2012
- World ranking: 3
- PGA Tour: 5 (2015 Valspar Championship, 2015 US Masters, 2015 US Open, 2015 John Deere Classic, 2013 John Deere Classic).
- International: 1 (2014 Australian Open)
- Others: 1 (2014 Hero World Challenge).
- PGA Tour money list: US$10,545,465
Played: 24, 1st: 4, 2nd: 4, 3rd: 1, Top 10: 14, Top 25: 18
Scott and Ishikawa could join Spieth at SMBC Singapore Open
Three-time Singapore Open winner Adam Scott and Japanese wonder Ryo Ishikawa have been approached to play in the Republic's oldest golf tournament in January.
Australian Scott, winner at Sentosa's Serapong course in 2005, 2006 and 2010, and Presidents Cup representative is sure to provide a further boost to the SMBC Singapore Open which returns after a three-year hiatus.
Said a source: "Scott has always been receptive to playing in Singapore, while Ishikawa could be making his Singapore debut."
Scott, 35, who has one Major (2013 US Masters) to his name, is a crowd favourite because of his power play and mild mannerisms. Ishikawa, 24, known as the "Bashful Prince", has won 11 times on the tough Japan Tour.
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) signed a three-year deal as title sponsor of the tournament early this year.
At the signing ceremony, the bank's managing director and head of Asia Pacific Division, Masayuki Shimura, said: "The Singapore Open has great history, great champions, and is recognised globally as one of the premier golf tournaments.
"We look forward to adding to that legacy and further expanding our corporate brand in Asia...as well as continuing the expansion of golf in Asia through the development of the next generation golfers in Asia."
The event will be co-sanctioned for the first time by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO).
It will feature the top 60 from both the Asian Tour and JGTO, top local professionals and amateurs, and invitees including players from the top 50 in the world.
- GODFREY ROBERT
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