Golf: Japan Tour No. 1 Yuta Ikeda leads Japanese charge at SMBC S'pore Open

Japanese golfer Yuta Ikeda is set to lead his country at next week's SMBC Singapore Open.
Japanese golfer Yuta Ikeda is set to lead his country at next week's SMBC Singapore Open.PHOTO: TWITTER/ASIAN TOUR

SINGAPORE - Japanese star Yuta Ikeda will lead his countryman's charge at next week's SMBC Singapore Open as Japan seeks its first victory at the Singapore Open since Kesahiko Uchida's triumph in 1976.

Ikeda, ranked 33rd in the world, topped the last year's Japan Golf Tour Organisation's Order of Merit thanks to victories at the Panasonic Open, Honma TourWorld Cup and Casio World Open along with six runner-up finishes.

The 31-year-old will be joined at the Sentosa Golf Club by compatriots Hideto Tanihara and Shintaro Kobayashi for the US$1 million (S$1.44 million) tournament.

Among the strong field to line up at the Jan 19-22 event at the Serapong course include world No. 7 Adam Scott, No. 13 Sergio Garcia and four-time Major winner Ernie Els.

Defending champion Song Young Han said in a press release on Monday (Jan 9): "I tend to enjoy new situations. When I turned professional and participated in my first tournament, I tried to just enjoy the moment.

"Having won the SMBC Singapore Open it will allow me to start the new season as a defending champion and I think it will put me in a great frame of mind."

Tickets (from $20) are sold at smbcsingaporeopen.com