Sentosa, Singapore, January 19: American Matt Kuchar put up a inspirational performance that demonstrated his mental fortitude when he overcame a calamitous triple-bogey on the seventh hole by charging back with three birdies in his back-nine to win the SMBC Singapore Open on Sunday.
Despite a host of Asian Tour stars including defending champion and 2019 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Jazz Janewattananond piling the pressure on him, Kuchar showed he has the resilience to bounce back on the day that matters most at the Serapong course, Sentosa Golf Club.
Holding a three-shot lead at the start of the day, Kuchar extended his lead to four with his first birdie on four. However, the American ran into trouble on the par-five seventh when his tee shot came up against the root of a tree and he missed the ball on his first attempt to punch it out from the trees.
The nightmare continued when his approach shot flew left of the green, hit a cart path and went out of bounds. After hitting his sixth shot onto the front of the green, Kuchar eventually managed to hole a crucial putt from 10-feet for a triple-bogey eight.
But Kuchar mounted his comeback in his back-nine with birdies on 11 and 16 as his closest rivals fell by the wayside. The galleries then roared in unison as he went on to sink a birdie putt from almost 20 feet to win the iconic Singapore event with a final round one-under-par 70.
Former world number one Justin Rose of England finished in second place after posting a four-day total of 15-under-par 269 while Jazz took outright third place with a closing 71 at the US$1 million event which is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO).
Korean teenager Joohyung Kim signed for a 71 to take fourth place along with one of the four tickets to The Open at Royal St. George’s in July. The other three spots went to Canada’s Richard T. Lee, Thailand’s Poom Saksansin and Japan’s Ryosuke Kinoshita.
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Sentosa, Singapore, January 18: Matt Kuchar of the United States showed his star power by signing for a nine-under-par 62 to take a three-shot lead into the final round of the SMBC Singapore Open on Saturday.
Kuchar’s third round superlatives would have been the course record if not for the preferred lies ruling in play at the Serapong Course, Sentosa Golf Club where the US$1 million event, sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO), is being held this week.
Kuchar, the 2016 Olympic Games bronze medalist and a nine-time winner on the PGA TOUR, kept the galleries enthralled from start to finish with four birdies in his front-nine, followed by another five in his inward-nine for a three-day total of 17-under-par 196.
Defending champion Jazz Janewattananond returned with a 67 to share second place with Philippines’ Miguel Tabuena, who posted a 66 to remain on course to surpass his previous best finish of tied-fourth at the 2016 edition of the Singapore Open.
Korean teen sensation Joohyung Kim remained steady under pressure as he sunk a 15-footer to save par on the last hole to keep himself in contention for his second Asian Tour title.
The 17-year-old’s third round 67 meant he will start his final round four shots back of Kuchar in a share of fourth place with Canada’s Richard T. Lee, who posted a 65 for a 200 total.
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Matt Kuchar (Usa) – Third round 62 (-9) Total 196 (-17)
It was a great day. I had a good time as I got off to a great start with birdies in the first 2 holes. Continued to play some good steady golf, took advantage of the par fives again and it was a great day. That was a great way to start, back to back birdies, kind of tied for the lead there and just kept playing some good golf, it was fun. The whole group played really good golf; it was a fun day out. I really enjoyed being able to share the medal. Being an Olympic medalist, being able to bring around and share it with people. It’s been a real source of pride and something I really enjoy being – an Olympic medalist.
Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) – Third round 67 (-4), Total 199 (-14)
I’m happy with the back-nine for sure. A very slow start today as nothing was really going my way in my front-nine, but I am still happy with four-under. It would be great (successfully defend title), but Kuchar’s in for it right now and I see his score and it will be fun tomorrow. Let’s see if I can perform my best tomorrow. I am really excited to play with Matt. Last year I was up against many world class players and I win this event. This year, he’s (Matt) world class too. It will be interesting to see how he does too.
Miguel Tabeuna (Phi) – Third round 66 (-5) Total 199 (-14)
It was pretty solid, I mean I’ve been hitting the ball great which helps. You know when whenever I don’t play my best round or good round, it’s because I cannot hit a good shot off the tee, which my problem. The biggest problem, every time. I worked a bit last week on the range and I found something and I’m sticking to it. I’ve been here before. I’m expecting the nerves to be there and I welcome it. You know when you’re playing with nerves that means you are doing the right thing.
Joohyung Kim (Kor) – Third round 67 (-4), Total 200 (-13)
That last putt was very important indeed. Just hit one bad drive the whole day I think. Came at the wrong time but that putt to save par on the last definitely gives me the momentum for tomorrow. To not finish with a bogey on a par-five and saving that crucial par putt definitely gives me the energy to even play even better tomorrow. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, obviously. I think anyone in the top-six right now can win the tournament, so I don’t want to really get too hard on myself tomorrow. I will just stick to my game plan and hopefully it goes my way. There will be a lot of pressure thinking about The Open spots. I have to not think about that and just stick to shot by shot. I know if I can execute the way I did today, I can take care of these things. I would be lying if I say I’m not thinking about it (pressure). It’s always going to be at the back of your mind but you have to try not to think about it and stick to your game plan. Just trust your team and keep going.
Richard T. Lee (Can) – Third round 65 (-6), Total 200 (-13)
I just had a weird feeling today. I was pretty focused out there, but in a way I wasn’t focused, I don’t know. I was pretty zoned out but I made a lot of good putts out there and my shots were pretty solid today to make seven birdies and one bogey. It’s pretty good playing. It was definitely nice playing with Justin Rose and Matt Kuchar today. I wasn’t really trying to outplay them. I didn’t really notice them too much. I was more worried about myself, you know from shot to shot. I felt like I was sending my shots pretty solid and making lots of the putts. I am not really thinking about The Open spots for now. If I make it, I make it. I am just trying to play well and do my best to get that title instead. I mean I’m not really thinking about I’m just trying to play well and try to get that title instead.
Sentosa, Singapore, January 17: Defending champion Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand made a spirited charge up the leaderboard by carding a second round six-under-par 65 to head into the weekend in pole position at the SMBC Singapore Open on Friday.
Jazz, who started his round two shots off the pace, did not get off to the best of starts as he bogeyed the second hole. But he quickly found his rhythm with three birdies on holes four, eight and nine.
The 2019 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion then raced towards the summit with another four birdies in his back-nine for a two-day total of 10-under-par 132 at the Serapong course, Sentosa Golf Club.
Philippines’ Miguel Tabuena matched Jazz’s efforts when he also returned with a 65 to share second place with Korean teen sensation Joohyung Kim, who signed for a 66 at the US$1 million event which is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO).
American Matt Kuchar and former world number one Justin Rose of England also underlined their star credentials when they posted a 68 and 66 respectively to share fourth place.
Canada’s Richard T. Lee, a two-time Asian Tour winner, slipped to sixth place (69), having started the round in tied for second while Thailand’s Gunn Charoenkul returned with a 70 to stay four shots back of Jazz together with Japan’s Tomoharu Otsuki and India’s Rashid Khan in a share of seventh place.
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Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) Second round 65 (-6) Total 132 (-10)
It makes me really happy to be back here to play in the course that I won in a year ago.
There are still two more days and anything can happen. There are a lot of good players here. Kuchar and Rose are still within reach and I will just stick to my plan and hopefully will take a win for the weekend.
Everyone will be bringing their A game into the weekend. You just got to try and bring yours too and do what you have to do. Today I struggled at the start, was a bit shaky but I found the groove after and managed to get it done quite right. I just try to hit it better than this over the weekend. I mean, yesterday I hit better than this.
Today I putted better so I’ll try to combine it. It’s a bit hotter today than yesterday but I did get used to it because I’m Thai and it’s great. The pin and the green will get tougher for sure but I’m not sure about the wind.
Joohyung Kim (Kor) Second round 66 (-5), Total 133 (-9)
It’s great. I’ve played really solid golf in the past two days. Luckily, we didn’t have rain and we didn’t have that much wind in the afternoon so it’s pretty easy to take advantage of the holes. I stuck to my game plan really well. I feel like I played really solid defenses.
I think I hit it really well, I got up and down really well as well. There are some holes where it got a bit tricky but I was able to get up and down from there. I think I just gave myself a lot of opportunities out there.
There are some holes that I couldn’t really take opportunities of but I still finished really solid. The crowds have been amazing so far this week. The SMBC Singapore Open is one of the biggest events we play all year.
It’s also The Open Qualifier this week so it’s really nice to be here. I will stick to the game plan and just try and hit fairways and greens. Hopefully I can keep hitting it solid and keep giving myself a chance.
I’m not sure if I will feel nervous tomorrow. I think I have to wake up tomorrow and see how I feel. But I’m just really glad that I’m giving myself an opportunity to play in the weekend. I’ve played really solid so far so just hope to keep it up. Okay. I was very fortunate to win in India last year to give me chances to play in big events like this week. I have worked really hard and just to get step by step to where I am now.
I’ve always believed that I was able to do it but I just didn’t know when. I didn’t know it will all happen that fast last year. But the expectations that I have in my team has are very high, but we’re just trying to take it step by step. I don’t feel any pressure coming into this week but obviously, there is something on the line and every player is playing for it.
But I’m just trying to not get ahead of myself and we’re just trying to take a step by step. I had love playing golf ever since I was young, so to be honest, I am having more fun playing as a professional now. Just because you get to travel and getting to see players like Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson.
I was just watching these guys on TV a couple of years ago. To be in the same field this week is very honoring. I hope to qualify for The Open. It will be my Major debut. I will try to get myself into the PGA Tour as well and try to break top-100 on the Official World Golf Ranking. These are my goals so if I can achieve that, it will be great.
Miguel Tabuena (Phi) Second round 65 (-6) Total 133 (-9)
I played really solid, I can’t complain. I missed where I had to miss if I was out of position and I made some great putts out there. Hopefully it stays like that the next two days. It would have been a bit better if they did The Open qualifying series when I finished fourth.
I still can’t complain, that was my best year here so far in 2016. Hopefully, this year will be even better. I guess if I win the Singapore Open it’ll take care of itself right (qualifying for The Open). I’m here to win, and I’m just going to go out there and play the way I’ve been playing. I have more of an idea now where the pins will be the last two days and not a lot of people are used to the speed of the greens. And luckily it didn’t rain today so I can get a bit of a rest tonight, which will be a big help the next two days.
Matt Kuchar (Usa) Second round 68 (-3) Total 134 (-8)
It was quite breezy this morning and there were some difficult holes out there. I am glad that it was another good round today and I am in a good position for the weekend. Today I had a good number of putts go in as well, I think it was a good two days. Hoping to take advantage of the par fives.
It is going to be tough on team USA to get into the qualifying round but I certainly would like to qualify for it. I had such a good experience in Rio, and I would love to be back in Japan. I know that golf is going to be so well received there. I know it is going to be a great event.
Hope to play well for the rest of the year and make the team. You never know what the weather is going to do, just how the course is going to play. I try to play each hole to the best of my ability and take it as it comes.
Gunn Charoenkul (Tha) Second round 70 (-1) Total 136 (-6)
When you’re on the roll, you kind of forget the basics and that’s what happened on those three holes where I got a bogey double and then a bogey again. Overall, it was a rollercoaster round and I was fine until that hole and it got me mentally drained. I was lucky enough to hit the close on nine and finishing the par for today.
But I think that all that matters right now is I’m still in contention and I am very happy. I think I have done really well the past two days. Really have to go back to basics. I have to go back and practice a little on the range and see how it goes and hopefully it will help with the next few days.
I think the past few nights, I been watching too much golf. I think I’m just going to take a break from that and I’m going to try and relax and find something to entertain myself.
Rashid Khan (Ind) Second round 66 (-5), Total 136 (-6)
This is by far one of my best rounds on this golf course. I’ve played here many times but haven’t been able to score well. Maybe it was because of my iron shots here in the past but now, I’m very confident of hitting it onto the greens. I also enjoy holing those long birdie putts.
I’m really enjoying myself here and giving myself chances this week. I got a good result in Hong Kong last week and that gave me lots of confidence, especially with my putting on the greens. They were also very fast, just that they are bigger here and it’s tough to hit it close. So you got to be spot on with your approach shots.
Sentosa, Singapore, January 16: Thailand’s Kosuke Hamamoto showed he can be the man for the big occasion when he signed for an opening six-under-par 65 to take the first round lead at the SMBC Singapore Open on Thursday.
Despite playing at the US$1 million Singapore showpiece for the first time, the 20-year-old displayed maturity beyond his years as he outplayed several of the tournament’s marquee names that include former world number one Justin Rose of England, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, American Matt Kuchar and 2019 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand.
Thailand’s Gunn Charoenkul showed his consistency yet again by signing for a 66 to trail Hamamoto by one shot in a share of second place that included Canada’s Richard T. Lee, Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino and American Matt Kuchar, who managed to complete his round in near darkness.
17-year-old Joohyung Kim of Korea, who is the youngest player in the field and making his SMBC Singapore Open debut, continued to show his potential as he posted a 67 to end his day in tied-sixth place alongside Korea’s Inhoi Hur and Jazz.
Jazz started his title defence with a promising 67 while Rose and Stenson are a further shot back from the defending champion in tied-ninth place after returning with matching 68s.
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