Ryder Cup stars Thomas Bjorn （right) and Paul Casey both have their eyes on the UBS Hong Kong Open trophy after confirming they will take part in the US$1.2 million tournament next month.
Danish ace Bjorn has an excellent record in the Hong Kong showpiece, having finished joint fourth in last year’s tournament and tied for third in 2003.
“I like my chances very much at this year’s UBS Hong Kong Open,” he said. “I like the golf course, it has been good to me in the past. It is also no secret that I love Hong Kong as a city and this can translate to being comfortable on the course. I feel really positive coming back to Hong Kong this year.”
Bjorn has also been astonishingly consistent on his travels to East Asia – in the past 12 months he has played eight tournaments in the region and finished in the top five on six occasions.
“I enjoy being in Asia, I like playing all over the world but particularly in Asia as the cultures are so diverse and different in each country you visit,” he said.
“If you are comfortable with your surroundings and are enjoying yourself that can easily lead to good results, which perhaps explains why I play well in Asia.”
Bjorn enjoyed an excellent 2005 season which was highlighted by his eighth European Tour victory in the Daily Telegraph Dunlop Masters last May, when he emerged victorious from a sudden-death playoff with Brian Davis and David Howell.
He then came close to capturing his first Major title, finishing joint second behind Phil Mickelson in the US PGA Championship. It was the Dane’s third runner-up slot in a Major following his second places in the British Opens of 2000 and 2003.
Englishman Casey is also looking to make a big impact at the UBS Hong Kong Open, to be played at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling on December 1-4.
“The organisers have done well securing UBS as the new sponsor and it’s going to be exciting,” he said.
“I haven’t played in any UBS golf events before and I haven’t played in Hong Kong before, so it will be a new one for me and that’s exciting. Any new events that pop up on the schedule are warmly welcomed by all the players and I am very excited to be going to Hong Kong and playing my first tournament there.”
Casey has fond memories of East Asia after winning the TCL Classic in Hainan, China, last March. He beat Ireland’s Paul McGinley in a playoff for his fourth European Tour victory.
Kathryn Shih, chief executive, UBS Hong Kong Branch, welcomed the news that Bjorn and Casey would be playing at Fanling.
“One of the great traits of the UBS Hong Kong Open is its ability to attract the very best players from both the Asian and European Tours each year and Thomas Bjorn and Paul Casey certainly fit that bill,” she said.
“Thomas had another great season in 2005, highlighted by his victory in the British Masters as well as a tie for second place at the US PGA Championship. Paul, meanwhile, will be gunning for another Asian title for the year at the UBS Hong Kong Open after his win at the TCL Classic.
“I’m sure Hong Kong’s legion of golf fans will look forward to seeing whether Thomas or Paul can notch up another victory at Fanling next month.”
Bjorn and Casey are the latest star additions to the UBS Hong Kong Open field which includes defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain and Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie, who recently secured the European Tour Order of Merit for a record-breaking eighth time.