October 30, 2008 – An illustrious quartet of past champions – headed by two-time winner Miguel Angel Jiménez – will contest the historic 50th edition of the UBS Hong Kong Open.
Jiménez, champion in 2004 and again last year, will line up with 2005 winner Colin Montgomerie, 2001 victor José María Olazábal and the legendary Bernhard Langer, who captured the title in 1991.
The four will be joined in the US$2.5 million showpiece by six-time Major winner Nick Faldo.
The UBS Hong Kong Open will be held at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling from November 20-23.
Spanish star Jiménez is aiming to become only the third player in history to claim a hat-trick of Hong Kong titles.
Taiwanese legend Hsieh Yung Yo has four wins (1963-64, 1975 and 1978) while Australian great Peter Thomson has three victories to his name (1960, 1965 and 1967).
Jiménez will also be attempting to be the first player since Hsieh to successfully defend his title.
“The Hong Kong Golf Club is one of my favourite courses in the world and the UBS Hong Kong Open is one of my favourite tournaments,” said Jiménez.
“When you look at the list of great former champions then you realise just how historic and important it is. The 50th edition of the tournament will be even more special and I’m really going to enjoy being part of it as I defend my title.”
The cigar-chomping, pony-tailed Jiménez triumphed in dramatic fashion last year, making up four shots on overnight leader Robert Karlsson of Sweden to win by a single stroke.
He had the same margin of victory in 2004 when he pipped Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and South African James Kingston.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to win the UBS Hong Kong Open twice and I would love to complete a hat-trick, especially in such an important year,” added Jiménez.
“But I know UBS are putting together a tremendous field and it is going to be extremely tough.
“I’m especially pleased that Bernhard, José María and Monty, three fantastic Hong Kong champions, and Nick, who has been such an inspiration to European golfers, will be alongside me this year.
“I count them all as good friends and we’re looking forward to what promises to be a great week at Fanling.”
Scottish great Montgomerie won by a stroke three years ago when the unfortunate Kingston double bogeyed the final hole.
Two-time Masters champion Olazábal, meanwhile, produced what is widely regarded as the greatest finish in the Hong Kong tournament’s history when he won in 2001.
Trailing co-leaders Henrik Bjornstad and Adam Scott by two shots with three holes to play, the Spaniard finished with three birdies in a row – highlighted by a brilliant approach shot to within inches of the pin on the 18th – to win by one shot.
Langer, in contrast, was a runaway winner 17 years ago when he fired an eight-under-par 63 in the final round.
“I have very fond memories of Hong Kong as a winner there many years ago,” said the German star, the Masters champion in 1985 and 1993.
“The UBS Hong Kong Open is one of the great tournaments of Asia and Hong Kong is one of the most unique locations on tour.
“I’m really looking forward to returning to Hong Kong for the Open, which is celebrating its 50th edition, a great achievement.”
Faldo, meanwhile, will be a star attraction both on and off the course at next month’s showpiece.
The English great – winner of the British Open in 1987, 1990 and 1992 and the Masters in 1989, 1990 and 1996 – will once again take on an “ambassadorial” role as a special guest of title sponsor UBS.
Faldo has fond memories of Fanling, having shot a third-round 62 – a course record at the time – on his way to winning the inaugural Johnnie Walker Classic in 1990.
The UBS Hong Kong Open – first staged in 1959 – is the oldest professional sports event in Hong Kong and is considered the “jewel in the crown” of Asian golf with a history that no other tournament in the region can match.
“The UBS Hong Kong Open is one of the marquee events in the Asian golfing calendar and acknowledged as the heritage tournament in the region,” said Chi-Won Yoon, Country Head and CEO, UBS AG Hong Kong Branch.
“In its 50th year we are delighted to invite two eminent past champions, Bernhard Langer and José Maria Olazábal, back to Fanling. As two of the nine players who have won both the Open and a Major championship, they are emblematic of the tournament’s distinguished history.
“I am delighted that they will be joined by two of their elite contemporaries, 2005 winner Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo, long-time favourites in Hong Kong, as well as by the UBS Hong Kong Open’s defending champion, Miguel Angel Jiménez.”