Golf : Japan Tour stars Shingo Katayama and Kim Kyung-tae primed for SMBC S'pore Open

Japan's Shingo Katayama (left) and South Korea's Kim Kyung Tae will be taking part in the SMBC Singapore Open, which runs from Jan 28-31.
Japan's Shingo Katayama (left) and South Korea's Kim Kyung Tae will be taking part in the SMBC Singapore Open, which runs from Jan 28-31.PHOTOS: AFP

SINGAPORE - East Asian golf stars Shingo Katayama and Kim Kyung Tae will lead a stellar Japan Tour contingent at next week's SMBC Singapore Open.

The pair, ranked 58th and 59th in the world respectively, are joined by 12 other winners from last season's Japan Tour, including Japan Open champion Satoshi Kodaira.

Kim, 29, is coming off the back of a stunning 2015 in which he won five times. Said the JGTO Order of Merit: "Last year I asked my (senior) coach to help me and he reminded me of the swing I had last time.

"Now I have a good mental image of my swing - so that is why I am doing well."

The US$1 million (S$1.44 million) Singapore Open returns after a three-year absence and for the firs time will be co-sanctioned by both the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO).

Looking forward to his trip to the Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course is fan favourite Katayama, known for his distinctive cowboy-style hat and colourful on-course outfits.

The 42-year-old has won 29 times on the JGTO, including last year's Taiheiyo Masters, topped the money list on five occasions and has earned more than US$17 million in career prize money.

He said his form is still improving and that he "would like to win 35 times in total by the time I am 45."

Kodaira's victory in the Japan Open was his third on the JGTO and the 26 year old said that he was pleased to get the chance to add to his tally at the Singapore Open.

"It is a big tournament and I am looking forward to playing," he said. "The highlight for me in 2015 was winning the Japan Open - I kept my focus well that week. In preparation for the new season I have been working on my putting."

Besides the threesome, 2015 JGTO Tour winners Michael Hendry, Adam Bland, Daisuke Kataoka, Liang Wenchong, Toshinori Muto, Prayad Marksaeng, Yuta Ikeda, Kim Hyung Sung, Hideto Tanihara, Yusaku Miyazato and Hwang Jung Gon have also confirmed their participation for the Jan 28-31 tournament.

Other international stars who will feature include world No. 1 Jordan Spieth, former Major winners Darren Clarke and Yang Yong Eun and Ryder Cup star Jamie Donaldson.