Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng received his early birthday present when he eclipsed his younger rivals with a final round four-under-par 67 to lift his 10th Asian Tour title at the 2017 SMBC Singapore Open.
Prayad’s closing birdie on 18 proved decisive as it gave him a one-shot advantage and also the clubhouse lead while the rest of the field were still out at the Sentosa Golf Club trying to pip him to the title.
Prayad, who turned 51 the following week, was eventually crowned the newest SMBC Singapore Open champion after a two-hour wait as no one in the chasing pack was able to surmount their challenge and better his four-day total of nine-under-par 275.
A year earlier Korean Younghan Song upstaged Jordan Spieth from the United States, who at the time was the world number one, to win the 2016 SMBC Singapore Open.
It was the 50th edition of Singapore’s national Open and also marked the first time the event hand been played since 2012. It was a glorious comeback for the tournament highlighted by a dramatic Monday morning finish with two main combatants.
Song was left to ponder a crucial par save on 16 overnight as his charge towards the prestigious title was halted there when the sirens blew to signal the suspension of play on Sunday afternoon.
The Korean bravely holed his putt when play resumed at 7.30am the next day before going on to close his finishing two holes with pars and sign off with a one-under-par 70.
Song’s winning total of 12-under-par 272 was just enough to pip Spieth by one shot and avoid a potential play-off with the Texan, who had earlier sunk a tricky five-foot birdie putt on 18.
The tournament was back on the schedule thanks to a three-year title sponsorship deal with the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC).
SMBC was established in April 2001 through the merger of two leading banks: The Sakura Bank, Limited, and The Sumitomo Bank, Limited.
SMBC, as a core member of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG), works together with other members of the Group to offer customers highly sophisticated, comprehensive financial services throughout the Asia Pacific region.
In 2016, the tournament also became a jointly-sanctioned event between the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation. From 2009 to 2012 the Asian Tour had jointly-sanctioned it with the European Tour.
In 2012, Italian teenager Matteo Manassero captured the most important title of his career with a play-off victory over South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen.
After playing a marathon 36 holes of golf on the final day, Manassero pipped Oosthuizen to the title with an eagle three at the third play-off hole – the 18th.
The duo tied at 13-under 271 in regulation and Oosthuizen, winner of The Open Championship in 2010, missed a five-footer for birdie and the win at the second play-off hole.
It was yet another memorable edition of Singapore’s national Open.
Australia’s Adam Scott had back-to-back triumphs in 2005 and 2006 and completed a hat-trick of victories in one of Asia’s leading events in 2010.
Major winner Angel Cabrera of Argentina triumphed in 2007, India’s Jeev Milkha Singh took top spot the following year while Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter from England won in 2009.
After Scott became the first player to win the title three times in 2010, Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano won the 2011 edition by beating Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines at the second play-off hole.
With a list of past champions that dates back to 1961, the Singapore Open has earned its place in the history books as a tournament that helped build the
foundations for the development of tournament golf in Asia.
The Lion City’s national Open was part of Asia’s very first professional golf circuit, which was made up of a handful of tournaments in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaysia and Japan.
Australian Frank Phillips – a two-time Australian Open champion – won the inaugural Singapore Open in 1961 and started the ball rolling for a succession of victories by overseas players.
South African Brian Wilkes triumphed the following year and was followed by countryman Alan Brookes before Australians Ted Ball and Phillips and Ross Newdick of New Zealand triumphed in the ensuing years.
It was Filipino Ben Arda who helped turn the tide in 1967 when he became the first Asian winner. He won again in 1973 and in fact it was not until Terry Gale’s success in 1978 that another non-Asian player claimed the title.
Chinese Taipei and Japanese players became regular winners of the event, ensuring the trophy did not always leave Asian shores.
There have been 11 Australian winners, eight from Chinese Taipei, six American, five Japanese, four Filipino, three from Myanmar, two from India, Thailand, New Zealand and South Africa and one apiece from Argentina, Canada, England, Italy, Korea and Spain.
Other notable winners of the event include 1998 champion Shaun Micheel from the United States, who won the US PGA Championship in 2003.
Australian Peter Fowler was victorious in 1987, Greg Turner from New Zealand won in 1986 while one of Chinese Taipei’s most famous golfing sons, “TC” Chen, claimed top spot in 1985.
Five players have tasted victory more than once in Singapore. As well as Scott and Arda the others are Phillips and Chinese Taipei’s Lu Chien-soon and Hsieh Yung-yo.
Past Champions of the Singapore Open
2017 Prayad Marksaeng
2016 Younghan Song
2012 Matteo Manassero
2011 Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño
2010 Adam Scott
2009 Ian Poulter
2008 Jeev Milkha Singh
2007 Angel Cabrera
2006 Adam Scott
2005 Adam Scott
2001 Thaworn Wiratchant
2000 Jyoti Randhawa
1999 Kenny Druce
1998 Shaun Micheel
1997 Zaw Moe
1996 John Kernohan
1995 Steve Conran
1994 Kyi Hla Han
1993 Paul Moloney
1992 Bill Israelson
1991 Jack Kay
1990 Antolin Fernando
1989 Lu Chien-soon
1988 Greg Bruckner
1987 Peter Fowler
1986 Greg Turner
1985 Chen Tze-ming
1984 Tom Sieckmann
1983 Lu Chien-soon
1982 Hsu Sheng-san
1981 Mya Aye
1980 Kurt Cox
1979 Lu hsi-chuen
1978 Terry Gale
1977 Hsu Chi-san
1976 Kesahiko Uchida
1975 Yutaka Suzuki
1974 Eleuterio Nival
1973 Ben Arda
1972 Takaaki Kono
1971 Haruo Yasuda
1970 Hsieh Yung-yo
1969 Tomio Kamata
1968 Hsieh Yung-yo
1967 Ben Arda
1966 Ross Newdick
1965 Frank Phillips
1964 Ted Ball
1963 Alan Brookes
1962 Brian Wilkes
1961 Frank Phillips