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Clarke tips big things for An

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Major winner Darren Clarke has predicted a bright future for several of Asia’s rising stars, including Korea’s An Byeonghun who is second favourite behind world number one Jordan Spieth to win this week’s SMBC Singapore Open.

Clarke had a close up look at the region’s top players during the recent EurAsia Cup where he captained Europe to victory.

“I know one of them, Ben (An) quite well. I think he’s a wonderful chap, he’s a very nice young man. He’s got his ‘please’ and ‘thank you’s’ he’s got a huge future in the game,” said Clarke who is in same stable as An, the European Tour Rookie of the Year in 2015.

“But there are so many of them. I’ve been around for a long time and have come to Asia for a long time. Asia is like a second home for me in terms of where I come to play.

“It’s great to see the strength and depth of Asia getting better and better especially in Japan and Korea. They are going to get better and produce more players like Ben.”

Clarke has played the Serapong Course at Sentosa Golf Club during previous Singapore Opens and said that the venue kept improving.

“The golf course here just seems to get better and better to come back to,” said Clarke. “The course has matured a little bit more since (I was here last) and it has gotten better.

“As I am getting older, I don’t like to see tees going backwards but go forwards. But the course is fantastic.”

Clarke, who will captain Europe in their defence of the Ryder Cup in the United States later this year, added that SMBC Singapore Open drawcard Spieth was one of a quartet of young players who were revolutionising the game.

“I presume you’re referring to Jordan and Rory (McIlroy), Rickie (Fowler) and Jason (Day),” said Clarke when he asked his opinion on the young brigade dominating the game.

“I think it’s wonderful – I think the four of them are great young kids and I think they’re wonderful ambassadors for the game.

“The distances the young kids hit the ball these days, I mean, when I was growing up, I was pretty long in comparative terms, but the distances these kids are hitting are just completely over-powering courses.

“As I just said, those four young men as global superstars of our game, I couldn’t ask for anything better. Our sport is in very good hands with those young ones.”

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