It’s the last European Tour event of the calendar year this week. Justin Rose is defending champion in the UBS Hong Kong Open and a strong field has assembled.
Justin Rose withdrew from last week’s Hero World Challenge with recurring back problems but he is scheduled to play this week in Hong Kong. The Olympic champion is joined on the start sheet by Masters champion Danny Willett, Ryder Cup stars Patrick Reed and Rafa Cabrera-Bello, former winner Ian Poulter and four-time winner Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Miguel Angel Jimenez – how to warm up:
This will be the 58th edition of the Hong Kong Open and it’s been part of the European Tour schedule since 2002. Having said that, the event didn’t technically appear on the 2016 calendar as it was last held in October 2015, as the final regular event of the 2015 season and now, in December 2016 as an early event on the 2017 season.
Since the tournament was first contested in 1959 there have been a number of notable winners including Peter Thomson, Greg Norman, Tom Watson and, more recently, Colin Montgomerie, Rory McIlroy and Miguel Angel Jimenez. The Spaniard has won the event on four occasions. Last year Justin Rose took the title by a stroke from Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark.
The Hong Kong Golf Club was founded in 1889. The club has been host to this tournament since 1959 – one of the few professional events to have remained at the same venue for such a long period of time.
The tournament will mark the end of this year’s Asian Tour. Scott Hend of Australia leads the standings and he’ll take the Order of Merit so long as Marcus Fraser doesn’t win at Fanling and Hend fails to finish inside the top-13. Hend is a former winner of the Hong Kong Open.
The weather forecast looks good at this stage. No rain expected.
Venue: Hong Kong GC, Fanling, Hong Kong
Date: Dec 8-11
Course stats: par 70, 6,710 yards
Defending Champion: Justin Rose (-17)
Thursday 8 – Sky Sports 4 from 6am
Friday 9 – Sky Sports 4 from 6am
Saturday 10 – Sky Sports 4 from 4.30am
Sunday 11 – Sky Sports 4 from 4am
Three Spanish players who might succeed this week:
Rafa Cabrera Bello – He’s enjoyed a superb year on the European Tour and has achieved a great deal without securing a victory. This event provides a good chance for him to do just that.
Nacho Elvira – A strong finish to the 2016 season showed that Elvira has the talent to mix it with the top players. He recorded three top-10s in the last two months of the schedule. He’ll look to get his 2017 campaign off to a good start.
Carlos Pigem – An outside chance, but he produced some excellent golf last week in South Africa to finish in tied fourth. He’ll look to build on that this week.
Key hole: 18th. At 410 yards, it might not look overly imposing on the card but, with water, trees, heavy bunkering plus a famously elusive green, par here is an excellent score.
Skills required: Course management. This is a layout that demands accuracy and a strategic approach. It’s an old-school track where the ability to hit the long-ball is not a prerequisite. It’s a course that requires good shot-making and a tidy short game.