The SMBC Singapore Open is teeing off at the Sentosa Golf Club on 19 January and current champion Song Young-han of Korea (below), who beat Jordan Spieth by one shot in a nail-biting finish during the previous edition, is back to defend his crown.
The 25-year-old is in a rich vein of form recently after finishing second in the Mitsui Sumitomo Taiheiyo Masters and third in the Japan PGA Championship. We asked Song a couple of questions prior to his return.
How important was the SMBC Singapore Open victory for your career?
As many people know, I hadn’t gotten a trophy since I turned pro, finishing runner-up many times. Eventually my first trophy was from JGTO & Asian Tour co-sanctioned event, SMBC Singapore Open. Especially since the highlight was Jordan Spieth and it was during my winter training session and the first event in 2016, I felt confident after winning. Actually I got many chances to join several PGA events.
How did you celebrate the victory?
Unfortunately I had no time to celebrate because it was Monday so I had to take a flight to Myanmar for the next tournament! Some close contestants and I had dinner with beer. That was all for my celebration.
After the win you took a selfie with Jordan Spieth. Did you post it on social media and if so how many times was it viewed?
It garnered a lot of responses. Some asked me why take a picture with the other contestants even though he’s a superstar and some people told me I was humorous and cute. Most people were curious about Jordan’s character. Of course, as you know, he’s a very kind and good guy. As I mentioned before, I enjoyed the new achievement so I took a commemorative photo with him because we play in different tours and God knows when we would meet again.
I didn’t upload the photo because it is just for myself. However, I met him at two to three more tournaments afterward. I actually didn’t expect to meet him so soon for many times.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of your game and are you working on anything in particular at the moment?
I was a short kid and have a short driving distance. That means I have to make less mistakes than the others do, and it became my play style, rather defensive and stable than aggressive and daring. Those are both strengths and weaknesses. Fewer risks but fewer chances.
However, the professional tour often requires players to be aggressive. If I was more daring, I would have lifted my first trophy earlier. I feel the importance of short game these days and have more time to practise and nurture my strength.
Standing in Song’s way, however, are the who’s who of the golf world, including Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els and the incredibly popular Adam Scott, who has won the Singapore Open three times. We grabbed a couple of minutes with him during the Australian Open.
What are your expectations for the 2017 edition?
I am using the SMBC Singapore Open as a springboard for an amazing 2017. It’s a strong field so you need to be on point to be in contention. It would be amazing to start the year with a win.
Do you play any other sports besides golf?
I played Aussie Rules until I was about 13. There was a bit of tennis and cricket too. Surfing is my other interest that I picked up much later as a hobby. It’s my way of relaxing. I also follow the world surf league as it travels around the world.
Surfing? That’s interesting.
Well, you have got to be near the waves but it hasn’t been happening a lot due to my family and daughter the last two years. Don’t get me wrong. It is great being home. Great fun. It’s very energetic at the moment in our house. There isn’t a lot of rest but the positive energy I get is fantastic.
What would you consider to be your career highlights?
Winning the Masters is always going to be the highlight, being the first Australian to do it. Number two would be winning the Australian Open. I am also still the youngest to win
The Players Championship. That was big. I can’t believe how long ago that was. And then the Singapore Open was the first national open I ever won. Any national open you win is a very proud moment even if you are not from that country. Being the national open champion here was a good feeling.
SMBC Singapore Open will be held at the Serapong Course at Sentosa Golf Club from January 19 to 22, 2017. Tickets start from $20 and can be purchased through the event’s official website.