Golf: Quincy Quek leads local charge hoping to make history at SMBC Singapore Open

Breaking a six-year barren spell to lift two titles at the PGM Northport ADT Championship and Haikou Classic last year, Quincy Quek hopes to carry that form to the Serapong Course.
Breaking a six-year barren spell to lift two titles at the PGM Northport ADT Championship and Haikou Classic last year, Quincy Quek hopes to carry that form to the Serapong Course.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - John Daly, Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel are just some examples of how when things fall in place over four days, even the unlikeliest of candidates can go on to win a big golf tournament.

No local has won the Singapore Open since the tournament was first established in 1961, but 13 Singaporeans - the most since the competition moved to the Sentosa Golf Club in 2005 - will try to upset the odds this week.

Among them are Quincy Quek, the Republic's highest ranked player at world No. 496, five-time Asian Tour winner Mardan Mamat and newly-crowned SEA Games champion James Leow.

Breaking a six-year barren spell to lift two titles at the PGM Northport ADT Championship and Haikou Classic last year, Quek hopes to carry that form to the Serapong Course.

The 32-year-old, whose best finish at the Singapore Open was joint-26th in 2017, said on Wednesday (Jan 15): "In the past, I gave myself chances to hit a good score but didn't convert as many crucial putts as I would like to. But when you are winning, the momentum feeds off itself. You see things in a more positive light, and you are more confident of going for lower scores.

"It is great for the local scene that there are these many spots for local golfers because it is not often we get to play with some of these top-class players and get the chance to earn some experience and coverage."

Familiarity with the 7,398-yard Serapong will also help. Quek said: "It looks like it'll be windy this week and the greens are firm so it's important to keep the ball in play on the fairways and greens.

"The rough isn't so thick but it's still hard to control the ball from there, so having clean lie and clean contact would be an advantage."

The trio of the Rio 2016 medallists are in town for the US$1 million (S$1.35 million) event and Olympic champion Justin Rose is hoping to start the year on a winning note.

 
 

Rose, 39, finished joint-ninth on his last visit here in 2011. The Briton said: "I got here earlier on Sunday... really work hard to try and get adjusted to the time zone.

"I have played in Jakarta (he won the 2017 Indonesian Masters) for a couple of years, similar weather so I don't think the heat is too much of an issue for me."

Fan favourite Ryo Ishikawa is coming off three wins on the Japan Tour last season and believes he has fully recovered from the back injury that interrupted his career in 2016. The Japanese star had strong starts in the 2018 and 2019 editions - he either led or was near the top after 36 holes - but faded over the weekend.

The 28-year-old, who is paired with Rose and defending champion Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand in the first two rounds, said: "This is a course I enjoy a lot, especially the 18th hole. It has got hazards on both sides of the hole, which is something we don't see much of in Japan, but it is makeable.

"Accuracy off the tee with the driver and three-wood would be key for this course."