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SINGH, LIANG RELISH RETURN TO HAPPY HUNTING GROUND

 

Photo - Asian Tour

 

SINGH, LIANG RELISH RETURN TO HAPPY HUNTING GROUND

 

Singapore: Past winner Jeev Milkha Singh of India and China's Liang Wen-chong, last year's runner-up, will be in the forefront of the Asian Tour’s challenge at the US$6 million Barclays Singapore Open in November.

 

Singh edged Major champions Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els to the victory in 2008 but did not defend the title last year because of a clash of dates.

 

Liang, like Singh a former Asian Tour number one, finished a stroke behind winner Ian Poulter of England in 2009 and is determined to go one better at Sentosa Golf Club from November 11-14.

 

They will join a field of dreams chasing the record-high first prize of US$1 million.

 

The four Major champions of 2010, headed by US Open winner and Europe's Ryder Cup hero Graeme McDowell, are confirmed starters in what promises to be a blockbuster tournament.

 

Ulsterman McDowell, who secured the winning point for Europe in their Ryder Cup victory over the United States, will be joined by Masters champion Phil Mickelson, British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Germany's Martin Kaymer, who beat Bubba Watson in a playoff to win the US PGA Championship.

 

Three-time Major champion Harrington, a European Ryder Cup teammate of McDowell and Kaymer, Asia's first Major winner Y.E. Yang of Korea and Australia's Adam Scott, back-to-back Singapore Open winner in 2005 and 2006, will also play in the Barclays Singapore Open.

 

Singh will be relishing a return to his happy hunting ground at Sentosa after a frustrating year on the PGA Tour.

 

The Indian, a multiple winner on the Asian, Japan and European Tours, has been troubled by a nagging shoulder injury and has had just one top-10 finish in 17 starts in the United States.

 

His victory in 2008 was the crowning moment of a towering career and saw him clinch the moneylist race in Asia for the second time.

 

"I think I am a very fortunate man to win. The golfing gods are on my side," he said in typically modest fashion.

 

Liang played a starring role in the final Major of the year, the US PGA Championship, with a course-record, eight-under-par 64 at Whistling Straits in the third round on his way to an eighth-place finish.

 

He feels very much at home in the Lion City - the scene of his only European Tour victory to date, the 2007 Singapore Masters - and has a particular liking for the Serapong Course at Sentosa Golf Club.

 

"I came very close to winning the Barclays Singapore Open last year," said Liang, China’s first and only Asian Tour Order of Merit to date. "I seem to always play well over the Serapong Course - I have a good feeling there and I hope to do well again.

 

"Singapore gives me good luck - I won the Singapore Masters there."

 

Liang reckons the Barclays Singapore Open will be more difficult to win this year as the field has been increased to 204 players who will play both the Serapong and Tanjong Courses at Sentosa Golf Club on the first two days.

 

"It will be harder to win the tournament this year," he said. "I think there will be a lot of good scores at the Tanjong Course, which means I will have to play well there. I have never played that course before."

 

The first prize of US$1 million at the Barclays Singapore Open is the highest-ever on offer at a joint-sanctioned event between the European Tour and Asian Tour with the overall prize fund of US$6 million only equalled in a regular event this season by the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

 

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