Defending champion Ian Poulter at Barclays Singapore 2010

SINGAPORE, November 8: Defending champion Ian Poulter of England will play the first two rounds of the Barclays Singapore Open with highly rated Korean youngster Noh Seung-yul, the current leader of the Asian Tour Order of Merit.

Poulter, Noh and South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel will tee off on the Serapong Course at 12.40 pm on Thursday.

It will be a good opportunity for fans to see one of the most colourful players in world golf play alongside one of the biggest prospects in the games. Y.E. Yang, Asia’s first Major champion, was full of praise for countrymen Noh during an interview on Tuesday.

“If he can sustain the kind of game (he has shown recently) coupled with a little bit improvement on the mental side, he will be a much better player than I am right now and astronomically better than I am when he comes to my age,” said Yang of this year’s Malaysian Open champion.

The group ahead of Poulter, Noh and Schwartzel should also draw a big gallery with US Open champion Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland playing alongside last week’s World Golf Championships winner Francesco Molinari of Italy and former Asian number one Liang Wen-chong of China, who was runner-up last year. They tee off at 12.30pm.

In another showpiece group on the Serapong Course, US PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer of Germany tees off at 12.50pm with two-time Barclays Singapore Open champion Adam Scott of Australia and Tetsuji Hiratsuka of Japan.

On the Tanjong Course, Masters champion Phil Mickelson will play with Italian wunderkind Matteo Manassero, who became the youngest winner on the European Tour at age 17 when he lifted the Castello Masters title last month, and three-time Asian number one Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand. They start their round at 9.25am.

Next off at 9.35pm will be three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington, joint second at Sentosa Golf Club two years ago, Japan’s ‘smiling assassin” Shigeki Maruyama and China’s Zhang Lian-wei.

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