Masters champ Garcia to return to S'pore Open next year

Sergio Garcia finished tied 11th on his Singapore Open debut last year.
Sergio Garcia finished tied 11th on his Singapore Open debut last year.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

For the second time in three years, the SMBC Singapore Open will feature a reigning Masters champion in its field, with Sergio Garcia set to make a return to the Sentosa Golf Club in January.

The Spaniard had triumphed at Augusta National with a play-off win over England's Justin Rose for his first Major title.

That victory in April came months after he finished tied 11th on his Singapore Open debut. Thailand's Prayad Marksaeng had won the US$1 million (S$1.36 million) event at the Serapong Course.

The 2016 edition was headlined by American star Jordan Spieth, who had won the Masters and US Open in 2015. He finished runner-up at the Singapore Open.

The tournament, co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation, proved to be the perfect launch pad for his season, Garcia, 37, said in a statement yesterday.

He won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in early February before winning the coveted Green Jacket. He also married former Golf Channel reporter Angela Akins last month.

"I loved my time in Singapore and it was the ideal way to start the golfing year," said the world No. 5.

"I did not manage victory in the Singapore Open but I won twice soon afterwards, including my first Major at the Masters. I am happy to be coming back to the Singapore Open next year. It is a great event."

The 2018 edition will be held from Jan 18-21 and Singapore Golf Association president Ross Tan is delighted about Garcia's return.

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

Garcia has won 10 times on the PGA Tour and has a strong record in Asia. He won the Kolon Cup Korea Open (2002), the HSBC Champions in Shanghai (2008), the Iskandar Johor Open (2012), the Thailand Golf Championship (2013) and the Ho Tram Open in Vietnam (2015).

"I feel comfortable playing in Asia and I have had success there in the past," he said. "Hopefully I can add the Singapore Open to that list."

Local golf enthusiasts are looking forward to the return of Garcia, a fan favourite for his creative shot-making ability.

IT manager Kelvin Cheng, 41, said: "I always enjoy watching the top pros play. As golfers we can learn a lot from them and as fans we just love to see the shots they make.

"It would be wonderful to see Garcia here and I'm definitely going to catch the action next year."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2017, with the headline 'Masters champ Garcia to return to S'pore Open next year'. Print Edition | Subscribe