Sergio Garcia starts the new Race to Dubai season at the UBS Hong Kong Open looking for yet another high, in what has been a brilliant 2017.
The Spaniard has enjoyed a remarkable year both on and off the golf course, winning the Masters for his first Major Championship to go with victories at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, hosted by his own charitable Foundation.
A closing 65 at last week’s DP World Tour Championship actually put him within touching distance of topping the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex where a birdie rather than a bogey on the par five last would have put him in a play-off and victory would have seen him crowned Europe’s Number One.
That would have been quite the cherry on a year which saw him marry girlfriend Angela – who is expecting the couple’s first child in early 2018 – and he is now looking forward with optimism at the start of a new campaign.
“There’s always things that you want to achieve and I think that 2017 has been a crazy year on and off the golf course, which is great,” he said. “Getting married and obviously having a baby coming and with the three victories and winning the Masters.
“But you start a new year and you kind of re-set. You want to keep improving. You don’t want to get comfortable with what you’ve done. You want to make sure that you keep moving forward and keep putting yourself in position to win more tournaments and all those things.
“We have to get on it again. We have two tournaments left this actual year and hopefully we can finish and start the year in the same way that we did last season.
“The golf course here in Hong Kong is great. The town is electric, it’s a fun town. I’m hoping that we can keep that good momentum of play that we had all year and hopefully have a solid chance coming down this weekend.”
While this is Garcia’s first time at the Hong Kong Golf Club, 2015 champion Justin Rose is making his fourth appearance in Fanling.
The Englishman came even closer to winning the Race to Dubai than his long-time Ryder Cup team-mate, and an eagle rather than a bogey on the last at Jumeirah Golf Estates would have seen him beat Tommy Fleetwood to the European crown.
The Olympic champion is eager to look forward now, though, and he knows the key to success on this layout.
“It takes patience, I think,” he said. “I’ve played this golf course well and I haven’t played it well at times, I think, when I’ve got a little bit impatient because this course tempts you to hit a driver.
“It does offer you the opportunity to hit drivers and take on a bit of risk to try and have a little wedge in your hand. It’s a very strategic golf course.
“I’m excited to be here. It’s nice to turn over a new leaf and start the 2018 season and lead the Race to Dubai after this week. One week too late but that would be nice.
“It’s to have Tommy here, especially after his Race to Dubai win, clearly Sergio, myself. Good to see Sam (Brazel), defending champion, is always nice to have them back – It’s always a strong week and a strong field.”
The UBS Hong Kong Open is co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours as well as the Hong Kong Golf Association. For more information see www.ubshkopen.com To register for free tickets for the tournament or to purchase tickets for the Saturday and Sunday, go to www.ticketflap.com
The 2017 UBS Hong Kong Open is an accredited event celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The HKSAR Government and HKTB fully support the UBS Hong Kong Open.
To share the joy of the 20th Anniversary, the HKSAR Government is joining hands with different sectors to organise a wide variety of activities and events under the theme “Together, Progress, Opportunity”. For more details on 20th Anniversary events and activities, please visit: www.hksar20.gov.hk/eng
The UBS Hong Kong Open has also been recognized as an “M” Mark event to help enhance the image of Hong Kong as Asia’s sports event capital. “M” Mark is awarded by the Major Sports Events Committee, symbolizing an intense, spectacular and signature event in the territory sports calendar.