The hugely popular Ryo Ishikawa, aka The Bashful Prince, will compete in next week’s SMBC Singapore Open after organisers announced the Japan Golf Tour Organization (JGTO) entry list today.
Japan’s Shugo Imahira, winner of last year’s JGTO Money List, has also confirmed he will head to the US$1 million event. In fact, the top-five players from that Money List will compete.
South African Shaun Norris, equal second in Singapore last year, and Japan’s Yuki Inamori. Kodai Ichihara, and Yuta Ikeda, ranked second, third, fourth and fifth respectively on the Money List have all entered the tournament.
The SMBC Singapore Open will be played on the Serapong Course at Sentosa Golf Club from January 17 to 20 and is jointly sanctioned by the JGTO and the Asian Tour.
Ishikawa finished 22nd on the Money List but is one of the standout names competing from Japan. He was joint 16th last year in Singapore and will return this year bidding to become the first player from Japan to claim the title since Kesahiko Uchida’s triumph in 1976.
A sensation in his teens, the now 27-year-old is playing full time again on the Japan Tour after a serious back injury in 2016 interrupted his career.
While not adding to his 14 JGTO titles last year, his revival continued with a runner-up finish at the Token Homemate Cup and three other top 10 finishes.
Ishikawa shot to fame in May 2007 when he became the youngest winner on the Japanese circuit at 15 years and eight months with victory at the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup. The event was his first on the Japan Tour. He turned professional in 2008 and won eight tournaments in a two-year spell.
Imahira arrives at the SMBC Singapore Open as the Money List champion, thanks to earnings of ¥139,119,332 (approx. US$1,234,545).
He claimed the title for the first time thanks to victory in the Bridgestone Open, and six other top-five placings.
Other notable JGTO member heading to Singapore are Japan’s Yusaku Miyazato, the 2017 Money List winner and elder brother of former women’s star Ai Miyazato, China’s Liang Wenchong, Thailand’s Thanyakon Khrongpha, and Filipinos Angelo Que and Juvic Pagunsan ― who famously lost in a sudden-death playoff against Spain’s Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño at the 2011 Singapore Open following a Monday finish.
The SMBC Singapore Open is jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation.
Tickets for the US$1 million event are on sale via APACTix. Children below the age of 12 can access the event for free access – a move aimed at encouraging more juniors to come and watch the golf.