Phil Mickelson (Getty Images)
Four-time Major winner Phil Mickelson believes his experience of Sentosa Golf Club will stand him in good stead as he looks to claim victory in the Barclays Singapore Open.
The popular American has dropped out of the top ten in the Official World Golf Ranking, but remains positive about his chances this week, having visited Sentosa - home to the Serapong and Tanjong courses - on four previous occasions.
Mickelson is also enthused by the conditions he has encountered in the lead-up to tomorrow’s opening round and is now eager for the tournament, which is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and Asian Tour, to get underway.
He said: “The Serapong course is really in incredible shape. This is my fifth year coming here and it has improved every year.
“It has become more challenging, the conditioning has gotten better and it really is a world class venue to host this event. I have been very excited about coming here.
“I have been back home playing and practising and just itching to come here and play because I feel that I have been playing well and shooting some good scores so my excitement levels are really high at the moment, for this event and next week's Presidents Cup because those are my last two events of the season before 2012.
“Having played here a number of years I just feel that every time I come here I play the course better and better. I have to accept that there are a number of holes here where you have to accept par and maybe I have been forcing the birdies in the past. The more I come here the more I accept that.”
Mickelson is one of several high-profile names in the field this week and believes the winner is likely to be a familiar face.
“This is a golf course that every year seems to have the best players on the leaderboard,” he explained.
“I think that is testament to the course here that ever year the best players seem to rise to the top and contend at the weekend. That is what you want out of a golf course.”
The 41 year old has welcomed the increased number of events now taking place in Asia, adding: “I see it as world class golf moving around the world and trying to help grow the game in different areas.
“That's a good thing for the growth of the game and to continue to do that we have to continue to take world class golf to different parts of the world, just like Barclays has done in Singapore.
They have brought a world class event here to Singapore. We have seen great development here on the island of Sentosa and I think all of that is very good for the game.”
Another multiple Major winner, South Africa’s Ernie Els, is delighted to be back in Singapore.
Els, who won the US Open in 1994 and 1997 before claiming the Open Championship in 2002, has twice finished as runner-up at Sentosa and is hoping to go one better this week.
Reflecting on his previous visits to the Lion City, he said: “I first came here in 1993, to Singapore Island Country Club. Then I played Tanah Merah in 1996. I have been coming here forever - it's a great city, I love it here.
“I have been second twice and I ran Jeev (Milkha Singh) pretty close the year he won (2008). It would be good to get the win here.
“I am really looking forward to this week actually. I definitely am up for it - I have a bit of hunger back and it will be great to get out and play.
“It is good to be back. You forget how hot it is but great to be back here - a great town, wonderful sponsor and great courses. There aren't many complaints this week.”