World number one Jordan Spieth and Korea’s K.T. Kim, two of the hottest players in world golf in 2015, will duel over the opening two rounds of the SMBC Singapore Open at Sentosa Golf Club.
Spieth won five times last year, including the US Open and Masters, while Kim also had five victories on the Japan Golf Tour during a banner 2015.
The duo tee off the 10th tee on the Serapong Course at 7.50am in the feature group of the opening round on Thursday.
Spieth’s success in 2015 was largely due to his extraordinary touch on the greens while Kim is also known as a wizard with the putter and their contest on Serapong’s fast, tricky greens will be an intriguing one.
“When I first looked at the pairing, I was very happy. Playing with the number one player in the world will benefit my game,” said Kim, who rose to a career high of 18th on the Official World Golf Ranking in 2011 before swing changes resulted in a lean period.
“I heard that he is a really good putter, so I will be watching him carefully. And I want to play good golf.”
Joining Spieth and Kim in a tasty-looking three ball will be Yusaku Miyazato, who finished second to Kim in the 2015 Japan Golf Tour Order of Merit.
“It is very rare chance to play with the world number one player. It will be fun,” said Miyazato.
“I will try not to lose (to) both K.T. (Kim) and Spieth. But my main focus is to win this tournament. Two weeks ago I played the Sony Open so I am pretty much prepared for the tournament.”
In the 7.40am group off the 10th tee, European Tour Rookie of the Year in 2015 An Byeonghun will be joined by Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng, a multiple winner on the Asian and Japan Golf Tours, and Japan’s Hideto Tanihara, who has 11 wins to his credit in Japan.
Following Spieth and Co off the 10th tee at 8am will be Major winner Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland, Japanese star Yuta Ikeda and Arjun Atwal of India, a former Asian Tour number one who has won once on the PGA Tour.
The feature group in the afternoon session sees Korea’s Y. E. Yang, the only Asian to win a Major championship, tee it up with 2008 Singapore Open winner Jeev Milkha Singh of India and the colourful Shingo Katayama, who has won 29 times in Japan, including the Taiheiyo Masters last year.
The trio begin their round on the first tee at 12.40pm.
Ten minutes earlier, Welshman Jamie Donaldson, Europe’s Ryder Cup hero in 2014, Thai legend Thaworn Wiratchant, the winner of a record 18 tournaments on the Asian Tour, and Japan’s Koumei Oda will do battle.