Of all the contenders to take home the fourth and final World Golf Championship event of the 2012 season – the WGC HSBC Champions – Francesco Molinari must be among the strongest favourites.
Not only is the Italian a former winner of the event having defeated Lee Westwood by a single stroke to take the 2010 edition of the Championship, but he has also tasted success at this week’s new venue for the US$7 million dollar extravaganza – the stunning Mission Hills Golf Club in southern China.
It was there, on the same Olazábal Course that he will star this week, that the 29 year old won the Omega Mission Hills World Cup for Italy in partnership with his elder brother Edoardo in 2009.
“It’s a pretty nice combination to be a former champion of the HSBC and also to have won at Mission Hills,” smiled Molinari as he prepares to try and secure the fourth European Tour victory of his career.
“I think the more times Edoardo and I reflect on the World Cup win at Mission Hills, the more we realise what a great win it was for us and for Italy. It was a really tough week and we had some really strong competition from G-Mac and Rory, Poulter and Rose and Stenson and Karlsson so it was a really special week for us.
“It will be different playing a stroke play event there but there are a lot of good memories for me to draw on and I am very familiar with the golf course which will hopefully be to my advantage.
“The Olazábal Course is a really good test of golf and it has a really exciting finish where anything can happen really. The last four holes are great and I think you will see a lot of drama there, especially over the weekend.
“We are in for another great event I think. HSBC are such a strong supporter of the Tour and of golf all over the world and they have another very strong field this week with lots of the top American players coming over too so it will be a great challenge this week.
“I am happy with how I am playing generally. I have had another really good year on Tour and performed pretty consistently again but it would be nice to get another win or two before the end of the season, especially at Mission Hills because the WGCs are so close the Majors these days that if you win of them you know you have beaten most of the best players in the world to do so.”