Polishing the “special gem” ahead of SMBC Singapore Open

The presence of double Major winner Jordan Spieth at this year’s SMBC Singapore Open has put welcome added pressure onto the staff at Sentosa Golf Club to prepare a golf course fit for the world number one and the thousands of spectators expected to watch his every shot.

“As soon as I saw the press release (announcing Spieth as the tournament’s main drawcard) I cannot tell you how happy I was,” said Andrew Johnston, General Manager/Director of Agronomy at Sentosa Golf Club.

“Now I am super nervous – we are probably going to have so many more people here to see him and so many more eyes on our golf course (The Serapong) and our product.

“The amount of pressure it has put on us to make sure we are prepared for Jordan (is huge)…it is a welcome opportunity and we cannot wait. We are really excited and we hope when he sees our golf course he realises we have a special hidden gem here and he comes back every year.”

Spieth, winner of the Masters and US Open during a banner 2015, will start as favourite to win the SMBC Singapore Open from January 28-31 and he will find a “thinking man’s course”, according to Johnston.

“You know the Serapong is a thinking man’s course, that really is the aspect all the way around,” he said of the iconic layout.

“It is about where you want to place your tee shot to have the best chance to get into the green and score. Because even as big as our greens are, there are still a lot of challenges with the shaved areas around them and the speeds that they take.”

Putting on his agronomist hat, Johnston said that he hoped the winning score in the joint-sanctioned Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour event would be in single digits.

“That is a heck of a spot to put me on (asking for a winning score prediction),” he said.

“I hope we are into single digits, I hope it does not go into double digits. Certainly any golf course agronomist like myself can make a golf course so hard that nobody can play it and that is no fun.

“What we want to have is a fair test of golf and a good competition and see somebody go out and win it, in a fun week. I would love to see the winning score be six or seven under but it will probably be something like 15 under.”

The SMBC Singapore Open is making a welcome return to the calendar after an absence of three years and Johnston is optimistic that the change of date from November to January will result in a rain-free spectacle.

“It is Singapore and, gosh, you know the famous saying is that it rains every day and we get 400 thunderstorms a year,” he commented.

“But we do have our seasons. Usually in November, it starts one of our monsoon seasons and the timing of the old tournament was just really difficult for us to secure a good window and have a great event weather free.

“January, we are breaking back into one of our dry seasons and we really stand a great chance for January to be beautiful weather and have four rain-free days of golf.”

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