- Former champions Ormsby, Brazel and Hend return to Hong Kong Golf Club
- 23 nations represented in battle for one of the region’s most prestigious titles
Shane Lowry, Tony Finau and Jazz Janewattananond head a 120-player field in the 61st Hong Kong Open which gets underway at Hong Kong Golf Club this Thursday.
The 32-year old Lowry claimed his first Major at the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush last year, taking his total tally of European Tour wins to five. With prize money winnings of over €15 million to date, the Irishman will fancy his chances at Fanling and can be sure of a strong following at Hong Kong Golf Club.
World No.16, Finau will also be looking to leave his mark on Hong Kong’s longest standing professional sporting event. At 6 ft 4 in, the powerful American is one of the longest drivers on the PGA Tour but, making his tournament debut, he will have to master the classic, tree-lined Championship Course if he is to add the Open to his record.
Meanwhile, Jazz returns to Hong Kong in a rich vein of form having wrapped up the 2019 Asian Tour Order of Merit before the end of a season that saw the Thai break into the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking, with wins at the SMBC Singapore Open, Kolon Korea Open, BNI Indonesian Masters and Thailand Masters.
The trio are joined by three former champions who know what it takes to win at Fanling. Wade Ormsby (2017), Sam Brazel (2016) and Scott Hend (2014) return to the scene of former glories and will be looking to reassert Australia’s impressive showing in Hong Kong in recent years, while Angelo Que of the Philippines, who lost out to Hend in a play-off, will consider the Open unfinished business.
Five other players, who between them boast some 20 Asian Tour wins, will also be ones to watch at Hong Kong Golf Club. John Catlin (4 wins), Shiv Kapur (4 wins), Poom Saksansin (3 wins), Prom Meesawat (3 wins) and S.S.P Chawrasia (6 wins) will all be looking to get their name on the prestigious trophy. Chawrasia featured in a thrilling final day at the 2017 tournament. Having led for the first three rounds, a triple-bogey on the ninth hole of the last round brought a host of players back into contention, with Ormsby eventually taking the title by a single shot.
Andrea Pavan returns to the Open having last played in 2015. Ranked 74 in the world, the Italian enjoyed a strong year on tour in 2019, claiming five top-ten finishes including a second European Tour win at BMW International Open in June. He too will be a likely challenger at the weekend.
Another player to keep an eye on this week is Brandon Wu. After enjoying a glittering amateur career, the 22-year-old made his PGA Tour professional debut at the Houston Open last year, coming close to a top-10 finish before an 18th-hole bogey left him tied in a very respectable 17th place.
American-born, Wu moved with his family to Beijing at the age of eight where he continued to hone his skills, playing in the WGC HSBC Champions Pro-Am as a twelve-year-old, before returning to the U.S. aged 13. Conversant in English and Mandarin, Wu famously received his Stanford degree after finishing the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach last June and was fifth in the World Amateur Golf Ranking before turning professional in September.
Fans with an interest in less orthodox talent will be pleased to see Korea’s Hosung Choi join the line-up. With three wins on the Japan Golf Tour, including last November’s Heiwa PGM Championship, the 46-year-old is no stranger to top level competition. But it is his distinctive follow-through, dubbed ‘The Fisherman Swing’, that has won him an army of fans on social media and is sure to catch the attention of visitors to Hong Kong Golf Club this week.
Hong Kong will be represented by 13 players in Matthew Cheung, Isaac Lam, Terrence Ng and Lou Tan Chi Hin – all qualifiers for the original November date, and Jason Hak Shun Yat, Motin Yeung, Ben Wong, Leon D’Souza, Taichi Kho, Alexander Yang, James Stewart, Derek Fung and Wilson Choy, who receive invitations to compete in their national Open.
Joining the 13 are Alan Gibson and Shinichi Mizuno. While playing under their respective national flags of Scotland and Japan, both are long term members of the Hong Kong golfing community.
D’Souza, Kho and Cheung are home-grown talents to keep an eye on. D’Souza finished in an impressive 41st place in his last Open outing in 2017, while Cheung will be looking to go one better than 2018, when he also made the cut into the weekend.
Hosted by Hong Kong Golf Club, the Hong Kong Open is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Hong Kong Golf Association. Organised by the European Tour, the 61st edition of the tournament sees players representing 23 countries compete for their share of the tournament’s US$ 1 million prize purse.
Tickets are available to purchase via Ticketflap – https://www.ticketflap.com/thehongkongopen
The tournament is free to attend on Thursday 9 and Friday 10 January for all. Under 21s go free for all four tournament days. For more information see www.thehongkongopen.com
The Hong Kong Open has also been recognized as an “M” Mark event to help enhance the image of Hong Kong. “M” Mark is awarded by the Major Sports Events Committee, symbolizing an intense, spectacular and signature event in the territory sports calendar.