Field of Champions
THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS FOR THIS YEAR’S HONG KONG OPEN, FEATURING STAR PLAYERS SUCH AS DEFENDING CHAMPION MIGUEL ANGEL JIMÉNEZ AND FIRST-TIMER ERNIE ELS
The course at the Hong Kong Golf Club is in excellent shape, with the manicured greens running fast and true, ready for the four- day, US$ 1.3 million Hong Kong Open to tee off for the 56th time in Fanling.
The tournament, taking place from October 16 to 19, is the oldest professional sporting event in Hong Kong and the penultimate event on The European Tour International Schedule before the lucrative Final Series. It will again be tri- sanctioned with the Asian Tour and Hong Kong Golf Association.
Golf fans in Hong Kong are in for a treat as four- time Major Champion Ernie Els has confirmed to play for the first time. The Big Easy, as he is known on the circuit, is a massive crowd favourite and will be sure to set the Hong Kong Golf Club alight with his fluid golf swing and precise putting. The double US Open and Open Championship winner will play four tournaments in Asia, starting with the Hong Kong Open, as he makes his final preparations for the DP World Tour Championship. He is currently in 21st place in The Race to Dubai.
The South African says he is excited to grace the fairways of the Hong Kong Golf Club.
“I am very much looking forward to playing the Hong Kong Open for the first time,” says Els. “I have been to Hong Kong before and have tried and enjoyed the course, so I am excited to take part in the tournament. I have heard many great things about the
event, its history and heritage, and I hope I am in a position to challenge for the title on the Sunday and join the list of great names who have held aloft this famous trophy.”
The Hong Kong Open has amassed a star- studded cast of winners over the years, including ten Major champions such as Rory Mcilroy, Ian Woosnam, Peter Thomson, Greg Norman, Tom Watson, Kel Nagle and Bernhard Langer. Other great names in golf that have won include two- time defending champion Miguel Angel Jiménez, Ian Poulter and Colin Montgomerie.
The championship has had its fair share of records too on the European Tour. In 2008, Hong Kong amateur Jason Hak, who lived in Florida, became the youngest golfer to make the cut on the Tour at just 14 years and 304 days. And the oldest player to win on the Tour is Jimenez, who won his fourth Hong Kong Open title at the age of 49 years and 337 days last year. The Spanish star will be back in an attempt to win the prestigious event for an unprecedented third time in a row, and fifth time overall.
Jiménez says: “This tournament holds a very special place in my heart, for obvious reasons. It is just a unique event – the city, the golf course, the people – they all contribute to what is always one of the best and most popular tournaments of the season for us players.
“Last year’s win was possibly the most special as I defended my title and also extended my record as the oldest winner on The European Tour. It will give me great pride to once again return as reigning champion. I hope that I can make it five!”
Keith Williams, general manager of Hong Kong Golf Club, says the organisation is delighted that Jiménez will be returning to defend his title. “He is an extremely popular player in Hong Kong, not only because of his fantastic record but also because he genuinely loves the golf club and the city, and truly appreciates the history of this great tournament.”
Asian Tour chairman Kyi Hla Han says The Hong Kong Open “has been a mainstay on the Asian Tour Schedule over the years,” and fans can once again expect to see the best golfers from Asia competing against their European counterparts.
“As the Asian Tour season builds to a climax, the Hong Kong Open will play an important role in the makeup of the Order of Merit and will be another thrilling week for all the fans in attendance,” he says. “The Hong Kong Open is no doubt one of the most prestigious events in the region.”
As the penultimate, fullfield tournament of The 2014 European Tour season, the Hong Kong Open will play a key role in determining the final make- up of The Race to Dubai.
Keith Waters, CO of The European Tour, says he and his colleagues are delighted that the Hong Kong Open returns to its traditional end of season date in the schedule this October.
“The Hong Kong Open has a long, rich history and since it became part of The European Tour International Schedule in the 2002 season, it has given us some wonderful moments, none more so than Miguel’s record- breaking victory last year, his fourth in Hong Kong.
“We are grateful for the co- operation between The European and Asian Tours, the Hong Kong Golf Association and Hong Kong Golf Club and our co- sponsors and partners, which has ensured that this great tournament will continue.”
Miguel Angel Jiménez will be back and seeking a historic win at the 56th Hong Kong Open in Fanling
Ernie Els makes his debut at this year's Hong Kong Open, one of the four tournaments in Asia that he will compete in