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Nick Dougherty looking forward to Singapore return

Singapore Masters champion Nick Dougherty has confirmed he is returning to the Lion City next month to defend his crown.

The brilliant young Englishman will be among the favourites to land the title when the tournament is once again staged at Laguna National Golf and Country Club on March 9-12.

Dougherty, who produced a stunning performance last year to hold off a challenge from Colin Montgomerie and win by five shots for his first European Tour victory, said he was looking forward to returning.

"The Sunday at Laguna last year was simply the best day of my golfing life to date," he said.

"I'll never forget the duel with Monty for the title and the thing I remember most was the support I received from the spectators in Singapore. They were knowledgeable and vocal in their support for both of us down the stretch.

"I can't wait to return there. You can only defend your first victory once and I aim to make the most of it!"

Dougherty, 23, is in fine form this season with three top-10 finishes in his first seven tournaments helping him up to sixth place on the European Tour Order of Merit.

The Singapore Masters, which will once again be co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours as well as the Singapore Professional Golfers Association, will feature a 144-player field chasing total prize money of US$1 million.

Keld Kristiansen, managing director of event promoter Parallel Media Asia, commented: "The Singapore Masters is a high-profile tournament that has gone from strength to strength in the five years since it was established.

"It is great news for Singaporean golf fans that the defending champion will be back in action at Laguna. The continued co-sanctioning from the European and Asian Tours means we can look forward to a strong field and it has all the makings of a great event.

"The tournament has served up some fantastic entertainment in the past and we can anticipate more of the same next month."

The Singapore Masters was established in 2001, when three-time Major winner Vijay Singh triumphed at Singapore Island Country Club.

India's Arjun Atwal, now a star on the US PGA Tour, was successful in 2002, when the event moved to Laguna.

Zhang Lian Wei carved his name in history in 2003 when he birdied the final hole to beat South African great Ernie Els by one shot and become the first Chinese player to win a European Tour event.

Montgomerie, one of the giants of world golf, took home the trophy in 2004 but was eclipsed by rising star Dougherty in last year's memorable final round.



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