After four years as a regular European Tour event, the growing stature of the HSBC Champions was recognised last November when it moved under the umbrella of the World Golf Championships for the first time and it retains that place in the golfing spectrum for this season.
Given its ‘world’ status, its debut in the realm 12 months ago could not have wished for a better final round with World Numbers One and Two Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson featuring in the last group on the last day. With the world of golf licking its lips in anticipation of a thrilling head-to-head, the only problem was, no-one appeared to have given Woods a copy of that particular script. An error-strewn opening saw him reach the turn in 39 and although he rallied to finish tied sixth, he was never a threat to his left handed adversary.
Instead, that came from a resurgent Ernie Els who stormed to the turn in 30 and notched four more birdies on the inward half only to rue a trip into the water at the last which cost him a bogey six in his 63. It left Mickelson needing a par five to win and although he flirted with the rough, he succeeded.