Singapore: The Singapore Open firmly seizes golf`s spotlight this week as three of the four major champions of 2010 battle a quality field for a share of USD 6 million in prize money.
Graeme McDowell (US Open), Martin Kaymer (PGA Championship), Phil Mickelson (Masters) join holder Ian Poulter in the hunt for a USD 1 million first prize at Asia`s richest national Open.
The only major winner missing is British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen who was forced to pull out with a troublesome ankle injury on Tuesday.
Sponsors Barclays announced in September they would ramp up prize money by $1 million for the Nov. 11-14 tournament, co-sanctioned by the European and Asian tours, making it the joint richest event on the European Tour outside of the majors and the World Golf Championships.
Two separate courses -- Serapong and Tanjong -- are being used for the first time this week and flamboyant Briton Poulter is looking forward to defending his title in the city-state.
"If you perform well on a golf course the previous year, there`ll be expectations of you to do well again," he told a news conference.
"I played exceptionally well last year and if I can put in a similar kind of performance, it`ll be nice ... I`ve got high expectations for myself and I`m sure the people have the same expectations of me as well."
Poulter, who notched a wire-to-wire victory last year, beating China`s Liang Wenchong by a stroke, said the depth and quality of the field made it crucial not to focus on individual rivals.
"The major winners are here and they are going to be competing very hard," he added. "I`m not going to think who I`m going to beat ... I`m not going to single anyone out."
The Singapore Open could also have a major impact on the race for the Asian Tour`s Order of Merit title, with 19-year-old South Korean Noh Seung-yul enjoying a rich vein of form that may see him extend his lead in the standings.
Compatriot Yang Yong-eun is looking to recapture the form that saw him become Asia`s first major winner with victory at the 2009 PGA Championship.
"This year has been a bit of a disappointment for me especially after 2009," said Yang who had a top-10 finish at this year`s Masters and picked up victories in China and Korea.
"For many players it would have been a successful year but after the personal highs in 2009 it has been a bit disappointing especially as I have not won on the PGA Tour, where I play the majority of my golf."
Among the other Asian talent vying for the title are Thailand`s Thongchai Jaidee, Chinese Taipei`s Lin Wen-tang and India`s Jyoti Randhawa.