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

Hong Kong Tatler - - Tatler Focus Hong Kong Open -

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

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