Defending champion Ian Poulter and Major Champions Jason Dufner, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose joined performers from a renowned Chinese opera company at the official launch of the WGC-HSBC Champions overlooking Shanghai’s historic riverfront.
The quintet recreated a traditional returning heroes scene with performers from the Shanghai Jingju Company on the rooftop of the Peninusla Hotel overlooking The Bund.
To celebrate the $8.5million tournament’s return to Shanghai and Sheshan International Golf Club after a year at Mission Hills, the players were presented with ceremonial cloaks and traditional weapons, such as swords, spears and halberds during the performance.
Poulter, who will play the first round with Race to Dubai leader Henrik Stenson and Brand Snedeker, was keen to guard his trophy as he prepares fr his defence this week against a field that includes 40 of the world’s top 50 players.
He said: “HSBC always do something fun for us in the city where we are. It’s nice to see a bit of the culture of the city we are in. It shows the players commitment to doing different things and enjoy the local culture.
“It is going to be a tall order to defend my title this year against such a strong field. Justin, Phil and Jason won the three most recent Majors and are obviously the in-form guys at the moment. I love playing in China and really feed off the enthusiasm and encouragement I get from the fans here, so whatever happens, I know it will be a great week.”
Open Champion and World Number Three Mickelson is joined by Rose and Keegan Bradley for the opening two rounds.
He said: “The WGC-HSBC Champions is recognised around the world as one of golf’s top events and I think the recent changes only underline that fact. It is certainly one of my favourite World Golf Championships events. I’ve won twice at Sheshan International Golf Club so it is a course I feel excited to return to.”
US Open Champion Rose added: “It’s always nice when you come to a country with such a different culture like there is in China to get a feel for it, with the local dance and dress.
“That is something that you take away with you and it makes the trip really special.”
McIlroy and US PGA Champion Dufner will be joined in the first two rounds by former World Number One Luke Donald.