The European Tour remains in China this week for the UBS Hong Kong Open. Englishmen Lee Westwood and Paul Casey and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy head a strong field at Fanling Golf Club.
A number of the leading protagonists for the inaugural Race to Dubai are on the entry list for this, the final event before the Dubai World Championship next week. Lee Westwood holds a narrow advantage in the race following last week’s WGC – HSBC Champions, but Rory McIlroy is hot on his heels and the young Northern Irishman will also tee it up at Fanling. The 20-year-old narrowly lost out in a playoff for this tournament last season and he’ll be aiming to go one better this time round.
For Westwood, it’s the first time he’s competed at Fanling and he’s looking forward to making his debut. “I’ve heard great things about the tournament from the other players, and it promises to be a fantastic week,” he said. “I understand Fanling is a tight, old-style course which places a lot of emphasis on accuracy, so hopefully it will suit my game.” Fanling is a tree-lined layout that, at just 6,700 yards, is one of the shortest on the European Tour circuit. But, with a par of 70 and numerous hazards to negotiate, it’s not a track that tends to be torn apart by the pros.
First held in 1959, the Hong Kong Open is Hong Kong’s oldest professional sporting event. It’s been won by some notable players over the years including Peter Thomson, Greg Norman, Tom Watson and Padraig Harrington.
Venue: Fanling, Hong Kong
Date: November 12-15
Course stats: par 70, 6,700 yards
Defending Champion: Wen-tang Lin (-15)
Thursday 12 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 6am
Friday 13 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 6am
Saturday 14 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 5am
Sunday 15 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 5am
Rory McIlroy – Last year’s runner-up, McIlroy will come into this event off the back of a top-five finish at last week’s WGC – HSBC Champions. He’ll be looking to pile the pressure on Westwood at the top of the Race to Dubai standings.
Lee Westwood – He hasn’t played here before but the course should suit his game. At number four on the Official World Golf Ranking, he’s the highest ranked player in the field.
Ian Poulter – Another Englishman in a rich vein of form, Poulter is at a career high of 13 on the Official World Golf Ranking and will be looking to make further progress.
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.
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