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Patience key at demanding Singapore Open

Afternoon thunderstorms likely to play havoc with schedule

Gulf News

It always feels great to be back on a golf course where you have done well in the past. Obviously I have some fantastic memories of Sentosa Golf Club, which is the host venue of this week’s Barclays Singapore Open, having won the tournament here in 2008, so I am confident of showcasing all the improvements in my game during the four rounds.

The year I won the tournament, beating Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els by one shot, the tournament was not co-sanctioned by the European Tour. It was the richest Asian national open event then, and that status has only elevated after it became a joint sanctioned event from 2009 onwards.

The key to doing well here is staying patient. This is a man’s golf course — very challenging and very demanding. I remember the year I won here, I had started with a one-over-par 73 round, which would have taken me out of contention on most golf courses. But I just hung in there, kept fighting, and won at seven-under.

There are several stunning holes on the course, but I especially love the whole stretch of the back nine. The rough and the fairways have a different strain of grass — the Zoysia Matrella — which demands a slightly different approach to your shots compared to the other courses we play on in the European Tour.

Another factor that always seems to play a role in Singapore is the afternoon thunderstorms. What it does is play havoc with the schedule and it is not uncommon for rounds to finish the next day and the tournament to finish on Mondays. There will be long days, with early morning starts to finish your previous round, and late evening waits for the play to restart. And that is another reason why you need to be very patient.

The field this week is deep again, led by the world No 1 Rory McIlroy. I am sure Rory will come here with the mission to wrap up the Race to Dubai honour with a good finish. If he does that, he will become the second player in two years to win the Money List on both sides of the Atlantic after Luke Donald last year — and the way he has played this year he deserves every bit of it.

Adam Scott is another superstar in the field who loves playing here. A two-time champion in Singapore, Scotty will be a big factor and he is playing really well, as was evident in his finish at the WGC-HSBC Champions last week.

This also happens to be the last year of Barclays’ sponsorship of this superb tournament. They have been magnanimous patrons all these years and their involvement has been the key in elevating it to the status it enjoys today. Here’s hoping that I can say thank you to them in the nicest possible manner — by winning this week.

— Jeev Milkha Singh is a four-time champion on the European Tour