Martin Kaymer (Getty Images)
Defending champion Martin Kaymer, World Number Three Luke Donald, World Number Four Lee Westwood and American four-time major winner Phil Mickelson have confirmed that they will play in the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions from November 1-4 on the Olazábal Course at Mission Hills Guangdong, in China.
Kaymer, the 2010 US PGA Champion, is looking forward to defending the title which he won in such style last November, with nine birdies on the final day leaving him three shots clear of the chasing pack.
He said: “I think HSBC is a lucky charm for me! I really like HSBC tournaments as I seem to play so well in them. Last year I won HSBC’s tournament in Abu Dhabi again and then I had an amazing week at the WGC-HSBC Champions in November. It is a little bit of a disadvantage to be defending my title on a different course, but I really liked the Olazábal Course when I played the World Cup there in 2009, so I am looking forward to returning and seeing if I can mount a successful defence of this prestigious title.”
He added: “I haven’t had as good a year as I would have liked and I really want to finish my season on a high note, so winning my second World Golf Championships would be a great way to turn my season around. It is the biggest event we play in Asia, and it is one that everyone wants to win.”
Donald is also eagerly anticipating his week at the WGC-HSBC Champions, having missed out on playing last year at the last minute as he awaited the birth of his second daughter.
He said: “I was so disappointed to miss out on playing at the WGC-HSBC Champions last year, although it was for the best possible reason! It is Asia’s flagship event and has become a very significant tournament worldwide, and I think our performances there will be a key factor in deciding both The Race to Dubai and the World Ranking come the end of the year.”
Mickelson, a two time winner of the WGC-HSBC Champions, said, “I’ve had great experiences at the WGC-HSBC Champions. and I am really looking forward to playing in the next edition. I love competing around the world, and it’s truly exciting in the growing markets of Asia and China because there’s a real buzz about golf and the fans are so enthusiastic and appreciative. Although I have won the title twice, this year we are playing on a new course in a new venue so I won’t have the advantage of my past experiences. This is a world-class tournament and to win my third title would be a wonderful finale for my season.”
Westwood said: “As Asia becomes ever more important on the global golf map, I think it would be very special to claim my first World Golf Championships title in China. I enjoy this tournament and, having never finished outside the top 15 including two second place finishes, hopefully I can finish one place higher this year.”
The final World Golf Championships of 2012 will take place at Mission Hills for the first time after seven very successful editions at the Sheshan International Golf Club, in Shanghai.
Giles Morgan, Global Head of Sponsorship and Events for HSBC, said: “HSBC is delighted to welcome back these four great champions to the eighth WGC-HSBC Champions. Martin’s nine birdies on the Sunday of last year’s tournament was one of the most remarkable performances of 2012, and he was an excellent champion and one we very much look forward to welcoming back. It has been extremely gratifying to see how eager Luke and Phil have been to return after missing out last year, while Lee has seemed to be almost a permanent fixture on our leaderboard and would be a very popular champion.”
The WGC-HSBC Champions, promoted by IMG, boasts a prize fund of US$7million, and is one of four World Golf Championships sanctioned and organized by the operational committee of the International Federation of PGA Tours, which includes The European Tour, Asian Tour, Japan Golf Tour, PGA TOUR, PGA Tour of Australasia and Sunshine Tour. The other World Golf Championships include the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, WGC-Cadillac Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
The following marquee players have won the coveted WGC-HSBC Champions title: David Howell, YE Yang, Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari and Mickelson – the only one to have won the title twice – and, as referenced above, Kaymer, who became the latest to join that impressive roll of honour in 2011.
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