Some of the greats of modern-era golf will be lining up for a shot at glory in one of Hong Kong’s longest-running professional sporting events, as a stellar field prepares for the long-awaited return of the Hong Kong Open from 9-12 November at the Hong Kong Golf Club.
2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed and 2010 US Open winner Graeme McDowell join LIV Golf headliners Harold Varner III and Belgian Thomas Pieters for the long-running tournament, first held in 1959, which has a prize pool boosted to the tune of US$2 million this year thanks to its new status as an International Series event on the Asian Tour.
Other big-name players including 2022 The Open Championship winner Cam Smith; two-time Hong Kong Open champion Wade Ormsby; Hong Kong Asian Games gold medallist and the first local player to win an Asian Tour title at the World City Championship in March, Taichi Kho; and LIV Golf pros Talor Gooch and Eugenio Chacarra are in the field for the first Hong Kong Open to be contested since 2020.
For Varner and Pieters, the Fanling date means a chance to re-connect with close friend and LIV Golf “RangeGoats GC” teammate Gooch. Gooch has acknowledged his relationship with fellow star ‘HV’ Varner as a key factor in his switching LIV Golf teams to RangeGoats this season.
“HV and I first met in college golf. We just hit it off right away and have been close ever since; then we had a bunch of time together on the PGA Tour, and now on LIV – and now we are teammates so it is fun, and it is a cool opportunity,” said Gooch, who has made history this season as the first player to win three LIV Golf events.
Varner also has some history behind his name; the 33-year-old is only the second American player to win the Australian PGA Championship. He added a first LIV Golf victory in DC in May with a 12-under-par score, and also has an Asian Tour win at the PIF Saudi International last year.
Gooch is confident that Varner and his teammate Pieters are going to quickly become fan favourites at the Hong Kong Open:
“‘HV’ is about as fun of a dude that you are going to be around, but he is also a great player. He hits the ball a long ways, and he has a great short game. He plays well all over the world. He is my teammate, but I hope that I whip him that week,” added Gooch.
Pieters has seven wins since turning pro in 2013 and has represented Belgium and Europe in numerous team events including the 2016 Ryder Cup – when he led Europe with four points.
With wins in six different countries in his career already, Pieters will be intent on adding China to that list this November at the Hong Kong Open. For Gooch that outcome is always a possibility.
“Thomas is truly one of the great talents that we have in the game. You look at him and think why are you not playing a different sport. He looks like a Greek god. He is 6’5” and a big dude that hits the ball a country mile. Great short game, great hands, just a great player. He truly has the potential to be one of the best players in the game on any given week,” added Gooch.
From friends to friendly rivals, the Hong Kong Open is set to welcome the return of two Fanling – and Ryder Cup – legends in Reed and McDowell.
Reed is no stranger to the excitement surrounding the Hong Kong Open – the nine-time PGA tournament winner having finished tied-for-third at Fanling on his debut in 2015, behind winner Justin Rose and Lucas Bjerregaard. The 33-year-old Reed has returned twice since then (2016, 2018), and was named in the field for the 2021 tournament, which was cancelled due to the pandemic.
The Texan is circling in on the LIV Golf Tour with five top-five finishes so far this season. He had a similar showing at this year’s Masters at Augusta, a venue where Reed will forever be remembered for his heroics in 2018, when he shot 15-under-par to win by a stroke.
Northern Irishman McDowell is also no stranger to Fanling – or Reed – as the pair have been part of rival Ryder Cup camps down through the years, representing Europe and America, respectively.
The 44-year-old McDowell counts four top-20 finishes among his previous efforts at the Hong Kong Open, to add to 15 career wins on the PGA Tour and European Tour in his illustrious career. He has also been an ever-present player on the LIV Golf Tour since 2022.
The Hong Kong Open is the penultimate event of this season’s The International Series, 10 marquee tournaments on the Asian Tour calendar. What happens in Fanling could have real bearing on the final standings for The International Series Order of Merit, the year-long race which will guarantee one lucrative spot for the overall leader in next season’s LIV Golf League.
As well as the enthralling, world-class golf, the Hong Kong Open’s Fan Village will once again entertain tens of thousands of visitors across event week. The Fan Village is the place to enjoy all the sun and fun off the course at the beautiful Hong Kong Golf Club with a host of activities and entertainment with yoga sessions, art workshops, golf simulators and other sport games, premier food and beverage offerings, shopping, face painting and more.
Tickets for the Hong Kong Open 2023 are now available via Ticketflap at ticketflap.com/hongkongopen2023.
Admission on Thursday and Friday, 9-10 November is free while daily prices for Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 November are $200 per day or $300 for a weekend pass.