Golf: Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa to compete at this year's SMBC Singapore Open

Ryo Ishikawa of Japan during the first round of the Quicken Loans National at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club on July 30, 2015 in Gainesville, Virginia.
Ryo Ishikawa of Japan during the first round of the Quicken Loans National at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club on July 30, 2015 in Gainesville, Virginia.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - One of the biggest names in Japanese golf, Ryo Ishikawa, will compete in Singapore for the first time after confirming his participation for this month's SMBC Singapore Open.

Organisers announced on Saturday (Jan 6) the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO) entry list for the Jan 18-21 season opener. Besides Ishikawa, compatriot Yusaku Miyazato, winner of last year's JGTO Money List, and seven out of the top-10 players from that list will also be in action at Sentosa Golf Club.

The US$1million (S$1.35 million) tournament is jointly-sanctioned by the JGTO and the Asian Tour.

In a statement, the 26-year-old Ishikawa said: "It will be my first time playing in the SMBC Singapore Open and it will be my opening game for 2018.

"I am looking forward to playing alongside the Japan Tour and overseas players. I hope I can show the golf fans in Singapore and the fans who will be watching on TV some of my best golf."

Nicknamed the "Bashful Prince" after he burst onto the scene in 2007 when at the age of 15 and still an amateur, he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.

He turned pro a year later and has won a further 13 times on the Japan Tour, claiming the JGTO Money List in 2009.

His last win came at the 2016 RIZAP KBC Augusta tournament and has played in two Presidents Cup (2009 and 2011) and two World Cups (2013 and 2016).

Miyazato, 37, is the elder brother of former women's world No. 1 Ai Miyazato. He posted four wins last season on the Japan Tour and earned just over US$1.62 million.

Ranked world No 50, he and Ishikawa lead a strong Japanese contingent at the Serapong Course. The last Japanese winner of the Singapore Open was Kesahiko Uchida in 1976.