Li Haotong is relishing the prospect of teeing it up in a ‘second home’ this week as the DP World Tour returns to Singapore for the first time since 2014.
The 27-year-old is one of a number of Asian players in the field this week at Laguna National Golf Resort Club as the Tour makes its return to the Far East for the first time in four years, and Li is hoping to build on his success at last year’s BMW International Open as he made a dramatic return to the winner’s circle with his victory in Germany.
“It’s a very exciting thing for me, especially as a Chinese person and an Asian,” said Li. “It’s such a great honour and opportunity to be here. Singapore is one of my favourite places. I feel like anywhere I play in Asia it’s my second home. I’m super comfortable. A lot of friends around me and my team around me. I’ll really enjoy this week.
“Last year I gained a lot of confidence from my win. This year I want to focus on my game, try and improve that and get more results like last year. Abu Dhabi wasn’t that great. But I went back home for a couple of weeks, figured out some things, especially on the family side. I guess I’ll have a good week. I just need to slowly get a better process and get back on track.”
From an Irish perspective, Gary Hurley leads a three-pronged attack and is out in the first group of the day on Thursday looking to bounce back from a missed cut at Ras Al Khaimah. The West Waterford man is joined in the field by Kinsale’s John Murphy who got in as a reserve on Tuesday and is looking to make his first cut of the year, while Hollywood’s Tom McKibbin will look to continue his encouraging start to life on the DP World Tour after a T36 result last week.
Another player enjoying home comforts this week in Singapore is Gavin Green, from neighbouring Malaysia. The two-time Olympian enjoyed a strong end to the 2022 season, finishing runner-up at the Portugal Masters, seventh at the Nedbank Golf Challenge and in a share of 20th at the DP World Tour Championship.
“It’s very exciting,” said Green. “Since the Maybank we’ve never had anything close to home. This is as close as it gets. The weather and the food makes it more homely. I have some family members coming, my mum and some friends. It’ll be an exciting week.
“I don’t have the opportunity to play in front of friends and family that much, just because it’s so far away. I’m usually in Europe and it’s too much for them to fly over, but when they can hop on a 45 minute flight and some of them live here too, it makes it a lot easier. It’s nice to see friends and family watch the game. It’s not that often I get the opportunity, so I’m going to enjoy it, do my best and see what happens.”
The pair are teeing it up alongside recent Seve Ballesteros Award winner Ryan Fox and a host of DP World Tour winners, including Adri Arnaus who is hoping to build on a strong fortnight in the United Arab Emirates. The Spaniard finished 13th at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic and sixth at last week’s Ras Al Khaimah Championship.
“One of the lucky things we get to do in our sport is travel the world,” said Arnaus. “I’ve never been to Singapore. I’ve been excited to come since the beginning of the year and here we are. I’ve started (the year) on a positive note, a bit slow at the first event but the last two have been quite good – staying at home in Dubai helps. The game is feeling good and I’m ready for this week.
“Last week I shot under 70 every day, that’s a good sign. I just need to go a bit lower and take the trophy home. Last year was huge to get my first win under my belt. This year we’re looking to add another one to the roster, hopefully more than one.”
Also in the field this week is former World Amateur Number One Taiga Semikawa of Japan, who will be making his DP World Tour debut. The 22-year-old made headlines last year as he became the first amateur to win the Japan Open in its 95-year history.
- Full tee-times HERE
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