Golf: 5 players to watch at this year's SMBC Singapore Open

(From left) Matthew Fitzpatrick, Sergio Garcia of Spain and Paul Casey of England attend a press conference ahead of the Singapore Open golf tournament at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore on Jan 15, 2019.
(From left) Matthew Fitzpatrick, Sergio Garcia of Spain and Paul Casey of England attend a press conference ahead of the Singapore Open golf tournament at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore on Jan 15, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

The SMBC Singapore Open will tee off on Thursday (Jan 17). We take a look at five of the hottest players.

SERGIO GARCIA, 39

World ranking: 27

Career highlights: 2017 Masters champion, 10-time PGA Tour winner, record points scorer in the Ryder Cup.

Why he could win: The Spaniard shrugged off the heat, fatigue and rain delays to win the Singapore Open by five strokes. Even playing 27 holes on the final day did not faze him; he did not drop a shot. That helped him get off to a good start in 2018 and he also ended strongly with five top 10s, winning the Andalucia Valderrama Masters as host and was tied-ninth at the DP World Tour Championship.

PAUL CASEY, 41

World ranking: 24

Career highlights: Two-time PGA Tour winner, 13-time European Tour winner, 2006 European Player of the Year.

Why he could win: The cheerful Englishman is the highest-ranked player. He is slightly ahead in preparations, having already played twice in Hawaii in 2019, and that could work to his advantage. Casey showed last March he still has the game to mix it up with the best when he won the Valspar Championship for his first PGA Tour triumph since 2009.

MATTHEW FITZPATRICK, 24

World ranking: 40

Career highlights: Five-time European Tour winner, finished tied-seventh at the 2016 Masters.

Why he could win: Fitzpatrick has consistently been talked up as the next big thing in European golf, with good reason. He became the youngest Englishman to win three European Tour titles at 22 when he won the DP World Tour Championship in 2016. The man who he displaced in the record books was none other than former No. 1 and six-time Major winner Nick Faldo.

RYO ISHIKAWA, 27

World ranking: 220

Career highlights: Youngest winner on the Japan Golf Tour Organisation at 15 years and eight months, youngest player to reach the top 50 and 100 in the world rankings.

Why he could win: The question marks hanging over Ishikawa have never been about his talent. He shared the lead at the halfway mark in 2018 but petered out over the last two rounds. If he can be consistent, there is every chance he could be in contention come Sunday.

 

JAZZ JANEWATTANANOND, 23

World ranking: 111

Career highlights: Youngest golfer to make the cut on the Asian Tour aged 14 years and 71 days, two-time Asian Tour winner.

Why he could win: The Thai was fourth at Sentosa in 2018 and that earned him a spot at The Open Championship. And he is well-placed for a repeat performance, being the form player on the Asian Tour - third and second in his last two events of 2018 and finished fifth at the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship to start the year.