World No. 1 Jordan Spieth will play in Singapore for the first time this week, lending tremendous star power to the SMBC Singapore Open, which tees off on Thursday at Sentosa Golf Club.
The American sensation is the biggest name in a quality field which could well boost crowd turnout at the Serapong Course.
"I will be watching the world No. 1 (Jordan Spieth)," Vincent Chiang, a business consultant, told The New Paper yesterday.
"But, of course, I'll support the local boys also."
Chiang, 57, was at Liang Court yesterday for the SMBC Singapore Open meet-the-fans session.
Fans queued to get autographs and photos with their idols, Japan Golf Tour No. 2 Yusaku Miyazato, two-time US PGA Tour champion Daniel Chopra and Singapore No. 1 Mardan Mamat.
Chiang, who plays golf once a week, added: "It's very hard to tell (who will win). For Jordan, he has not played in this sort of weather before. Anything can happen."
The field will feature marquee names, a heavy Japanese presence and a local posse led by Mardan.
Tournament promoter Lagardere Sports' vice-president (golf) Patrick Feizal Joyce told TNP: "Ticket sales have been quite good. They're probably around what we expected.
"Given the event hasn't happened for three years, I think people are curious as to how the event has changed."
Joyce hopes the tournament will attract about 20,000 spectators over four days.
"We've obviously got some great players coming and the feedback has been very positive."
Mardan, whose most recent win came at the Bangladesh Open last May, welcomed the return of the Singapore Open after a three-year hiatus.
"I always look forward to play in my national open - to have it back is quite a good thing for Singapore golf," said the 48-year-old.
"It motivates up-and-coming youngsters to come and watch, especially when we have the world No. 1 playing.
"It's good to have a lot of top players coming to play. But, for me, the challenge is between me and the golf course."
Fellow professional Chopra, 42, said the presence of Spieth and other quality opponents is a huge boost.
"It adds to the reward of winning the title if you do it with the best player in the world in the field," he said.
The 22-year-old Texan had a year for the ages in 2015, winning the US Masters and the US Open, finishing second at the PGA Championship and tied for fourth at the British Open.
One of the first in line to greet the players was American Daniel Creech, who flew in specifically to catch the Singapore Open.
The 28-year-old, who works in the oil and gas industry, said: "I'll be following Jordan Spieth because we're from the same state."
According to Joyce, arrangements have been made to ferry spectators to and from the venue.
"We have public shuttles from the bus depot at VivoCity," he said. "For those who do come on the island, they can park at Sentosa Cove and get a shuttle to the public or VIP entrance."
This article was first published on January 25, 2016.
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