Golf: Masters champion Sergio Garcia to return for January's SMBC Singapore Open

Sergio Garcia at the practice range during the second round of the World Golf Championships - Bridgestone Invitational on Aug 4, 2017
Sergio Garcia at the practice range during the second round of the World Golf Championships - Bridgestone Invitational on Aug 4, 2017PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Masters champion Sergio Garcia will grace the SMBC Singapore Open at Sentosa Golf Club for a second straight year, organisers announced on Monday (Aug 7).

The 2018 SMBC Singapore Open, to be played from Jan 18-21, will again be co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation with a prize fund of US$1 million (S$1.36 million).

Garcia claimed his first Major with a playoff victory over England's Justin Rose in April just months after making his debut at the SMBC Singapore Open, where he tied for 11th spot behind winner Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand.

The tournament proved a launch pad for his season with Garcia lifting the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in early February before going on to win the coveted Green Jacket.

"I loved my time in Singapore and it was the ideal way to start the golfing year," said the 37-year-old Spaniard. "I did not manage victory in the SMBC Singapore Open but I won twice soon afterwards, including, of course, my first Major at the Masters.

"I am happy to be coming back to the SMBC Singapore Open next year. It is a great event on a superb golf course."

The Spaniard's year hit another high last month when he married former Golf Channel reporter Angela Akins.

Garcia has enjoyed a decent track record in Asia, winning the Kolon Cup Korea Open (2002), the Champions Tournament, Shanghai (2008), the Iskandar Johor Open (2012), the Thailand Golf Championship (2013), and the Ho Tram Open, Vietnam (2015).

"I feel comfortable playing in Asia and I have had success there in the past," said the world No. 5. "Hopefully I can add the SMBC Singapore Open to that list."

Ross Tan, president of the Singapore Golf Association, said that it would be great to welcome Garcia back to the tournament.

"His presence lifted the stature of the event this year and I am thrilled he is returning, this time as a deserved Major champion," he said.

As well as winning multiple times in the United States, Europe and Asia, Garcia has repeatedly proved himself a great team player with starring roles in the Ryder Cup. He was a member of the European Ryder Cup team in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012, and 2014 with five of his appearances resulting in victories.