Singapore: Defending champion Himmat Rai of India believes the priceless memories of his maiden win in the Lion City will inspire him to a successful title defence at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic starting on Thursday.
Rai broke through in a big way when he prevailed in a five-way play-off at Orchid Country Club that stretched over six holes last year.
It took a 25-foot birdie putt from Rai to eventually pip Filipino Elmer Salvador for his first Asian Tour title.
With memories of his maiden win firmly etched in his mind, Rai is determined to extend another fairy-tale run in Singapore.
“It (winning) was amazing to me last year. Singapore has happy memories for me. I’ve played well here in the past. The course is in great shape. I played a practice round this morning. I’m just going to try to stick to the basics and go out there and do my preparation for Thursday and treat this as another tournament,” said Rai.
The ISPS Handa Singapore Classic will mark an exciting run of top events in April and it’s a schedule that Rai is looking forward to.
“I just feel the season has got under way and I’m just looking forward to the events coming up. I’ve been going over certain details in my game with my coach and just trying to figure out how to improve and working on some extra shots here and there. I wouldn’t worry at all and will continue to focus on what I need to work on and keep my mind on the scale,” said Rai, who has missed several cuts since the start of the season.
After narrowly missing out on his maiden win at two ISPS title-sponsored events (HANDA FALDO Cambodian Classic & ISPS Handa Singapore Classic), Salvador is determined to set the record straight this week.
“Himmat was the deserving winner last year and so was David Lipsky in Cambodia. I’m playing well and have just been unlucky. Hopefully, it’ll be my turn to lift the trophy this week,” said the 42-year-old Filipino.
Meanwhile Singapore’s Lam Zhiqun, who emerged as the top Singaporean after finishing tied-eighth at last year’s event, is adjusting to life in the play-for-pay ranks.
“I turned pro in December and am now playing on the Asian Tour. I’ve had a rough start this year and I’m just trying to fit it and learn what’s new,” said Lam.
The ISPS ambassador is among 30 Singaporeans who will be competing at this week’s event where over 40 champions, with no fewer than 100 victories accumulated between them will be in action.
While the marquee names like India’s Jeev Milkha Singh, Asia’s number one in 2006 and 2008, Singapore’s Mardan Mamat and South Africa’s Jbe Kruger, who currently leads the Order of Merit, may be taking the spotlight Lam prefers to focus his energy on developing into an all-rounded golfer.
“You start to adapt to new situations with the travel and stuff. You learn to adapt to new situations and start thinking about the cut. Every shot counts. It’s been a good learning experience in the past three months,” said Lam.
“I think I’ve made one cut in four events. It’s a process and you have stay patient. Golf is a very weird game,” added the Singaporean.
The ISPS Handa Singapore Classic will be beamed live to a world-wide audience on the Asian Tour’s global television platform as well as on Singapore’s MediaCorp Channel 5 during the weekend rounds.
By Indian Sports News Network