Friday, 19 March 2010

Colin Montgomerie begins his defence of the UBS Hong Kong Open on Thursday looking to continue a run that has seen him win at least one title around the world every year since 1993.

It is the third longest run of its kind in European Tour history, with only Bernhard Langer, who went 18 years winning at least once, and Seve Ballesteros, 17 years, ahead of him.

“I have defended a few tournaments before and I would like to do it again here, very much so,” said Montgomerie. “I haven’t won for a year now and that’s the first year 1992 that I haven’t won within a year and I want to change that in a hurry and win here just in time for the calendar year. I look forward to trying to do that.”

Montgomerie faces a tough task against the strongest field ever assembled for the UBS Hong Kong Open, including Major Champions Michael Campbell and Retief Goosen, Ryder Cup star Paul McGinley and four time US PGA Tour winner KJ Choi.

Goosen tees off in this week’s US$2 million UBS Hong Kong Open in the belief that he will need his “A game” to prevent a hat-trick of Asian victories in European Tour events.

The South African World Number Six says Asian golf has made huge improvements in recent years.

“It doesn’t matter where you play around the world, you have to pull out your best golf to win,” said Goosen, who recently won in China for the second time.

“Twenty years ago you may have said it was a walkover but not any more. Golf worldwide is so strong now. When I’ve won my events in Asia I’ve played some of my best golf in shooting 20 under par.”

Goosen – the US Open champion in 2001 and 2004 – has seen Asian players win the last two European Tour events and knows he will have his work cut out at the UBS Hong Kong Open.

The tournament, which starts on Thursday at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling, is once again co-sanctioned by The European and Asian Tours.

“This week, once again, it’s a strong field and you will have to play some of your best golf to win. They’re not going to give it to you on a plate, that’s for sure,” said Goosen.

“With a European Tour field, it will be tough. I understand it’s the strongest field they’ve had here and I’ll need to have my A game to do well this week.”

Goosen, who has won tournaments in the US, Europe and Asia in his illustrious career, said he enjoyed playing in different parts of the world – just like compatriot Ernie Els.

“I would say that out of the top ranked players, myself and Ernie get around the world the most. Some of the Americans, it is unusual for them to travel out of their state!

“What I like about playing in Asia so much is that people appreciate us. They show so much excitement about us playing here and that really inspires you to get out there and put on a good show.”

Goosen is making his first visit to Hong Kong but said he would not have time to attend the territory’s world famous horse races.

“I’m not a betting man,” he revealed. “I work hard enough for my money, so I’m not going to throw it away on gambling!”

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LARA, José ManuelESP18-15
2PAGUNSAN, JuvicPHI18-14
T3SINGH, Jeev MilkhaIND18-12
T3JAIDEE, ThongchaiTHA18-12
T6JIMÉNEZ, Miguel AngelESP18-11
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