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Sergio Sets Sights on Sentosa Defence

Sergio Garcia will defend his SMBC Singapore Open title. Picture by Paul Lakatos/Lagardère Sports.

Singapore: Major champion and crowd favourite Sergio Garcia will defend his title at next year’s SMBC Singapore Open.

To be held from January 17-20, the 2019 SMBC Singapore Open will again be jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation with a prize fund of at least US$1 million. It will be played over the Serapong Course at Sentosa Golf Club, a Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.

The tournament will also be part of The Open Qualifying Series for the third straight season with the leading four non-exempt players booking their places for the 148th Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club, in Northern Ireland, from July 18-21.

In a nod to Garcia’s talent and experience, Europe captain Thomas Bjorn chose the Spaniard as one of his captain’s picks for this week’s Ryder Cup against the United States at Le Golf National, Paris.

Garcia has repeatedly proven himself a great team player with starring roles in the Ryder Cup. He was a member of the Europe Ryder Cup team in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2016 with five of his appearances resulting in victories.

“I’m very thankful to Thomas for believing in me. I know that it probably wasn’t an easy decision, but he knows what I bring to the team, not only game-wise but inside the team room,” he said.

The Spanish superstar arrived at this year’s SMBC Singapore Open having won the US Masters in 2017 and lived up to his star billing by playing exquisite golf to win by five strokes.

Garcia will be competing at Sentosa Golf Club for the third successive year following his joint 11th place finish in 2017 and crushing victory in January.

He attracted big galleries on both occasions with the Singapore fans taking the Spaniard to their hearts.

“It was great winning in Singapore this year as a memorable 12 months for me came full circle,” said the 38-year-old Garcia, a multiple winner in the United States, Europe and Asia. “Things really started to happen after my debut in the SMBC Singapore Open at the start of 2017 and winning on my return was really big.

“The SMBC Singapore Open is a top class event on a great golf course and I am pleased to be able to defend my title next year. Starting my golfing year in Singapore is definitely the way to go.”

Garcia is regarded as something of an Asian specialist having tasted victory in 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).

His final round 68 at Sentosa Golf Club in January spreadeagled a quality field although Garcia was quick to dispel any notion that his victory was ‘easy’.

“It might have looked easy but I still had to hit a lot of good shots and I was able to do that,” said Garcia, after finishing the tournament on 14-under 270 to chalk up his sixth title on the Asian Tour and his 33rd worldwide.

Ross Tan, President, Singapore Golf Association, said: “It was wonderful that a Major champion of Garcia’s stature added his name to the list of notables who have won the SMBC Singapore Open and it will be a pleasure to welcome him back as defending champion. He is a true fan favourite and his play at this year’s tournament was of an exceptionally high standard.”

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