SMBC Singapore Open 2017

Golf: Feeling no pressure to be on Song again

Open win brought in new opportunities, and pushed South Korean up the world rankings

Song Young Han had edged out Jordan Spieth to win last year's Singapore Open, but has yet to win another title.
Song Young Han had edged out Jordan Spieth to win last year's Singapore Open, but has yet to win another title.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

He enjoyed a fairytale run at last year's SMBC Singapore Open, beating then-world No. 1 golfer Jordan Spieth by one stroke to win his first professional title.

While Song Young Han failed to reach the same heights for the rest of 2016, the South Korean has a shot at becoming just the second golfer after Australian Adam Scott (2005 and 2006) to win back-to-back titles at the US$1 million (S$1.42 million) tournament this week.

However, when asked if he will be approaching this year's competition differently from the last edition, the 25-year-old defending champion told The Straits Times: "I feel no pressure at all. There's not much difference, my goal is the same as last year: I want to make the cut."

He admitted that one year on, he is still pinching himself over his win, adding: "I was practising here yesterday and I was actually thinking to myself, 'How did I win last year?' "

Still, he returns to the Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course enriched by experience he picked up over the past 12 months.

Following his win last year when he was ranked 204th in the world, Song was invited to take part in the prestigious PGA Championship in July, where he finished tied-56th.

Song, now the world No. 80, said: "After winning the Singapore Open, a lot of good opportunities came and I was able to (take part in) many different Tour events, including the PGA Championship.

"It helped me to take myself to the next level... and to develop into a more complete player."

While he did not lift any more silverware for the rest of 2016, the golfer still felt that he had a fairly successful season, as he recorded two runners-up finishes at the Honma TourWorld Cup last October and the Mitsui Sumitomo Taiheiyo Masters last November. He also finished third in July's Japan PGA Championship Nissin Cupnoodle Cup.

This year, Song is aiming for consistent results and hopefully, to lift more than one trophy.

He said: "I think that finishing second was a good result for me. If I can continue like this, I will accumulate more experience which will lead to better results throughout the year."

Song recalled a light-hearted moment with Spieth at the PGA Championship in New Jersey.

He said: "Spieth's locker was right next to mine. So I asked him, did he remember me? He obviously did. And after that, we took another wefie."

Song had asked Spieth to take a similar wefie together after the Singapore Open last year.

And if he is triumphant at Sentosa again, perhaps he will be the one flooded with picture requests.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2017, with the headline 'Feeling no pressure to be on Song again'. Subscribe