October 27, 2006 – Swedish sensation Niclas Fasth, former champion Simon Dyson and fans’ favourite Nick Dougherty are the latest stars to be confirmed for next month’s US$2 million UBS Hong Kong Open.
The trio – all proven winners on the European Tour – are sure to be among the favourites for the November 16-19 showpiece at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling.
They will join a stellar line-up that includes UBS Hong Kong Open defending champion Colin Montgomerie, Major winners Retief Goosen and Michael Campbell, and Korean ace KJ Choi.
Fasth, 34, winner of last April’s Andalucia Open in Spain and victorious again in last week’s Mallorca Classic, will be aiming to make it three titles in a year when he visits Hong Kong.
“I’m in pretty good form at the moment, so I’m really geared up and ready for the UBS Hong Kong Open,” he said.
“I’ve had a great 2006 so far with a pair of victories and I’m looking forward to trying to add another title when I visit Hong Kong.
“The UBS Hong Kong Open organisers have put together a world class field so it will be very tough but, as a golfer, you want to compete against the best and the likes of Colin Montgomerie, Retief Goosen and Michael Campbell certainly come into that category.
“It promises to be a memorable tournament,” added Fasth, winner of five European Tour titles in total.
Englishman Dyson captured the Hong Kong Open title in 2000 when it was an Asian Tour-only event.
He has enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2006 with his first two European Tour titles – at the co-sanctioned Indonesia Open in March and the KLM Open in Holland two months ago.
“I have fantastic memories of Fanling after winning in 2000 so I’m really going to enjoy playing there again,” said Dyson, 28.
“I know from past experience it’s a challenging course that requires the highest levels of skill and concentration but, at the same time, it rewards good play.
“There are some outstanding players in the UBS Hong Kong Open field this year but, with my experience of Fanling and a couple of European Tour wins under my belt this year, I like to think I’ll be in with a chance.”
Dyson also holds the distinction of being one of only three players to shoot 20-under-par or lower more than once on the Asian Tour – the other two being Tiger Woods and Ernie Els.
Englishman Dougherty, 24, claimed his maiden European Tour victory in last year’s co-sanctioned Caltex Masters in Singapore after a thrilling final-round duel with Montgomerie.
Always popular with the galleries, he won many friends at last year’s UBS Hong Kong Open by staying at a city centre hotel and taking the KCR to Fanling each morning – a tactic that allowed him to meet local people and see more of the city.
“I had a great time in Hong Kong last year – it’s a wonderful city with a real buzz about it and the people are so welcoming,” said Dougherty.
“The Hong Kong Golf Club is a tremendous facility and I really enjoyed playing the Championship Course, so I’m looking forward to returning.
“I have great memories of Asia after securing my first European Tour win in Singapore last year, so it would be great if I could add another title in Hong Kong.”
Dougherty is a protégé of six-time Major winner Nick Faldo, who took him under his wing after seeing him win the inaugural Faldo Junior Series in 2000. Earlier this year, UBS signed an agreement to become a “Major Partner” of the Faldo Series Asia.
This year’s UBS Hong Kong Open – promoted by Parallel Media Group – will once again be co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours.
In addition to Choi – a three-time winner on the US PGA Tour – the Asian challenge at Fanling will be spearheaded by current Asian Tour UBS Order of Merit leader Jeev Milkha Singh of India and Chinese No.1 Liang Wenchong.
European players have won the past seven editions of the Hong Kong Open. Korea’s Kang Wook Soon was the last Asian player to lift the trophy, in 1998.