October 8, 2009 – Tiger tamer Yang Yong Eun will spearhead a world class field at next month’s UBS Hong Kong Open.
The Korean ace – who became Asia’s first Major winner when he triumphed at the US PGA Championship in August – has confirmed his participation in the US$2.5 million showpiece.
Also in the stellar line-up will be defending champion Lin Wen Tang of Chinese Taipei and the man he beat in last year’s unforgettable playoff duel, brilliant Northern Irish youngster Rory McIlroy.
Flying the flag for Hong Kong will be talented teenager Jason Hak, who created history at the 2008 Open by becoming the youngest player ever to make the cut in a European Tour event.
The 2009 UBS Hong Kong Open will be staged at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling from 12-15 November.
Yang is relishing the chance to play in Hong Kong after his PGA Championship heroics, when he hunted down world No.1 Tiger Woods and beat him by three shots.
“Being Asia’s first Major winner is a dream come true for me and it is an honour to play in front of the Asian fans who have always shown such passionate support for the sport and its players,” said Yang.
“I’m very much looking forward to the UBS Hong Kong Open as it is a tournament with a rich history and great tradition.
“I’m aware that nine of the previous Hong Kong Open winners have been Major champions and I will be doing my very best at Fanling next month to be the 10th player to achieve that feat.”
The PGA Championship was Yang’s second success of the year on US soil – in March he claimed his first PGA Tour victory at the Honda Classic.
He first leapt into the global spotlight in 2006 when he held off an elite field, including the impressive chasing pack of Major winners Michael Campbell, Retief Goosen and Woods, to win the Champions tournament in Shanghai.
Hong Kong fans will be eager to see Lin and McIlroy in action again after the duo traded incredible shots in last year’s playoff before Lin triumphed with a birdie on the second extra hole.
“Last year’s UBS Hong Kong Open provided the highlight of my career to date,” said Lin, who attended the 2009 tournament launch press conference today (8 October) at the UBS offices in Hong Kong.
“To win such an important tournament was a fantastic moment for me and to do it in such an exciting playoff only added to the thrill.
“Naturally I have fond memories of Fanling. It is a picturesque golf course but also a testing one with the emphasis on accuracy and skill. And the support from the fans is fantastic – the atmosphere on the final day last year was just incredible. I’m delighted to be returning.”
Lin will be heading to Hong Kong on a high after claiming the fifth Asian Tour victory of his career in last week’s Mercuries Taiwan Masters.
Following his near miss at Fanling, McIlroy claimed his breakthrough European Tour victory in February this year with a wire-to-wire success in the Dubai Desert Classic. He has gone on to enjoy an outstanding season with numerous top 10 finishes, including tied 10th at the US Open and tied third at the US PGA Championship.
He currently leads the European Tour’s Race To Dubai standings with season earnings of more than €2 million after finishing joint second at last week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.
“Although I unfortunately came up just short last year, playing in Hong Kong was a wonderful experience and I thoroughly enjoyed four days of great golf,” said McIlroy, still only 20. “It will be a strong field once again and I’ll be doing my utmost to go one better this time.”
Hak – born in Hong Kong and now resident in Florida – sent shockwaves through the golf world when he carded two rounds of even-par 70 to make the cut at last year’s UBS Hong Kong Open.
At 14 years and 304 days, he eclipsed the European Tour record set by Sergio Garcia of Spain, who was 15 years and 46 days when he made the cut at the Turespana Open Mediterrania in Valencia in 1995.
“Playing in my first UBS Hong Kong Open last year was an awesome experience and making the cut simply added to a brilliant week for me,” said Hak. “It was great to be playing alongside such world-class players and I’m looking forward to returning this year.”
Chi -Won Yoon, Chairman and CEO, UBS Asia Pacific, welcomed the quartet of players to the 2009 tournament. “We at UBS are counting the days until the opening of the 2009 UBS Hong Kong Open which this year promises to be the best ever,” he said.
“We’re delighted to confirm world class players such as YE Yang, who defeated Tiger Woods in August to become the first Asian to win a Major tournament, Lin Wen Tang and Rory McIlroy, who last year enthralled fans across Asia with their playoff duel, and the young Hong Kong star, Jason Hak, who last year, at 14, became the youngest player in the history of the European Tour to make the cut into the third and fourth rounds of the tournament.
“We’ll see them all at Fanling come November 12th. Please join us for what promises to be another spectacular UBS Hong Kong Open.’
The Open – Hong Kong’s oldest professional sporting event, having started in 1959 – will once again be co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours.
The tournament has been won by nine Major champions: Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle, Orville Moody, Greg Norman, Ian Woosnam, Bernhard Langer, Tom Watson, José María Olazábal and Padraig Harrington.
This year’s UBS Hong Kong Open is the penultimate ranking event on the European Tour schedule, taking place a week before the season-ending Dubai World Championship.
With only the top 60 golfers on the European Tour money list eligible to play in Dubai, the Hong Kong event has assumed even greater significance with players scrambling to secure their spot in the season finale.
The Open is the third-last event counting towards the Order of Merit on the 2009 Asian Tour calendar.