Japan superstar Ryo Ishikawa, who approached the peak of his powers last year with three wins, is hoping that it will be third time lucky at this week’s SMBC Singapore Open at Sentosa Golf Club.
Ishikawa, a teenage sensation who won his first tournament when aged 15, is swinging freer than in his last two appearances at the tournament as he recovers from a debilitating back injury that stalled his career.
“This year is my third time playing this tournament. I have always enjoyed playing here in Singapore and I am always very excited to play here against top players in the world like Justin Rose,” said the 28-year-old Ishikawa, who was joint second at the halfway mark last year before fading over the weekend.
“I am still trying to get better at hitting off the tee and I have to get better (if I am to be competitive). The three wins last year is just a number, but I am constantly thinking about my golf game.
“I am concentrating more on my game than the number of wins. I hope I can get better this year and get into the Olympics. The Tokyo Olympics would be one of the biggest tournaments (for me).”
The ultra-popular Ishikawa will act as a magnet for the galleries at the SMBC Singapore Open from January 16-19 with many fans tipping him as a potential winner.
Despite less rigidity in his swing, Ishikawa said that he was still conscious of his back problems.
“I still have some issues for my back but my body is in good shape now and I am still conditioning my body to get better,” said Ishikawa, who is back in the top 100 in the world ranking at number 83.
“I have been trying to upkeep my physical condition and take care of my back. Last season I was losing weight so I have been trying to gain weight, keep up with my diet, and do some training. I will be playing in a different condition this year.”
Ishikawa revisited some of his youthful feats in 2019 with two victories within seven weeks on the Japan Tour followed by success in the end-of-season finale.
He won the Japan PGA Championship in early July, followed through with a triumph in August at the Segasammy Cup and then was victorious in the Golf Nippon Series JT Cup in December.
Ishikawa, who finished third on the Japan Tour moneylist in 2019, now has 17 titles to his credit on home soil.