Rory McIlroy (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy will lead a parade of Major Champions, Ryder Cup stars and past winners to the UBS Hong Kong Open, which returns to Hong Kong Golf Club next week.
The World Number One, who boasts an incredible record in the tournament, is one of six Major Champions in the star-studded field, with a rejuvenated Michael Campbell of New Zealand, crowd-pleasing American John Daly, the 2004 winner Padraig Harrington, Ryder Cup hero Paul Lawrie of Scotland and Korean Y E Yang all heading to Fanling for the US$2million event.
McIlroy said: “I can’t wait to get back there and try to defend my title. I have said for a long time now that the UBS Hong Kong Open is among my favourite tournaments anywhere in the world.
“I absolutely love the city – it is just one of those places that has a great energy around it, and there is so much to do away from the golf course.
“Then you have the golf course itself, which is another major draw for me. It is one of the courses that I loved from the first time I played in 2008.”
McIlroy and Lawrie will be reunited with their inspirational Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal – who won the UBS Hong Kong Open the first year it joined The European Tour International Schedule, in 2002 – and one of the assistants who helped the Spaniard mastermind the “Miracle of Medinah”, his compatriot Miguel Angel Jiménez.
The charismatic Jiménez is a two-time winner of the tournament, having won in 2005 and then again in 2008.
Jiménez will be joined in Hong Kong by eight fellow former winners: Grégory Bourdy, Simon Dyson, Harrington, José Manuel Lara, defending champion McIlroy, Colin Montgomerie, Olazábal and Lin Wen-tang.
Other notable names in the illustrious line-up include American Ryder Cup player Matt Kuchar, making his UBS Hong Kong debut, and in-form Englishman England’s Paul Casey, whose last two appearances have yielded top ten finishes in the ISPS Handa Perth International (tied fifth) and the BMW Masters (tied sixth).
Kathryn Shih, CEO of UBS Wealth Management in Asia Pacific, said: “With six Major champions, Ryder Cup stars from both sides of the Atlantic, and of course the world’s top-ranked golfer in Rory McIlroy returning to defend his title, the UBS Hong Kong Open has a world-class field. UBS is proud to support the Hong Kong Golf Association and our national Open, and we look forward to another outstanding tournament this month.”
The tournament will again be played in the critical week before the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, thus giving competitors the final chance to qualify for the 60-man showpiece.