Last November, José Maria Olazábal produced one of the shots of the year to win the Omega Hong Kong Open and, 12 months later, the Spaniard is back to defend his title as the second counting event of the 2003 Volvo Order of Merit takes to the fairways of the Hong Kong Golf Club.
Last year was the first time the tournament, a fixture on the Asian golf circuit since 1959, had featured on The European Tour International Schedule and it could not have wished for a more dramatic conclusion to its inaugural staging.
Having drawn level with Henrik Bjornstad and Adam Scott with one hole to play, Olazábal saved his best for last. From the semi-rough to the right of the 18th fairway, the two time Masters Tournament winner punched a majestic five iron under branches and over the water guarding the green to within inches of the hole for his winning birdie three.
Once again the event is co-sanctioned between The European Tour and the Davidoff Tour and the bulk of the field will comprise a split of players from each, a truly international gathering attempting to stop Olazábal recording a successive victory.
Leading the way for Europe is six time Major Champion Nick Faldo and he is joined by, amongst others, last season's Volvo PGA Champion Anders Hansen and Thomas Björn, one of the stars of Europe's Ryder Cup win at The De Vere Belfry in September.
Leading the Davidoff Tour challenge is Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee, winner of the 2001 Davidoff Tour Order of Merit and the man who ran Colin Montgomerie a close second in the TCL Classic in China two weeks ago, and Jyoti Randhawa, who finished sixth in the dunhill links championship and second in last week’s BMW Asian Open.
The Omega Hong Kong Open will also see the first appearance of the season for players who came through The European Tour Qualifying School Finals at Emporda and Pals Golf Clubs in northern Spain last week.