October 17, 20 – Three-time Hong Kong Open champion Peter Thomson is to be the guest of honour at this year’s tournament, title sponsor UBS has announced.
The Australian legend will attend a gala dinner saluting his contribution to the championship shortly before the tournament is staged at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling on November 15-18.
Thomson, 78, said he was looking forward to returning to the scene of his triumphs in 1960, 1965 and 1967.
“I hope I have the chance to meet some of my old friends,” he said. “I’m looking forward to meeting everyone I can who was present at Fanling in the 1960s.”
Thomson, who still lives in his native Melbourne, has warm memories of his pioneering trips to the Hong Kong Open.
“In those times, we stayed in the city in Kowloon and we had a long drive to the course every morning. We loved every minute of it, the hospitality was marvellous and the people were so nice to us,” he recalled.
“The city was fascinating, just being there and walking down the street, which was something special for us as visitors.”
Thomson ranks as one of the giants of the game, having won the British Open an incredible five times between 1954 and 1965 as part of a hugely successful career on the European Tour.
At the same time, while at the peak of his powers in the 1960s, he was a great supporter of the fledging professional golf scene in Asia, winning tournaments across the region.
He went on to play for a short time on the PGA Seniors Tour in the United States, winning an astonishing nine tournaments out of 27 in 1985.
Thomson also captained the International Team against the USA in the Presidents Cup three times between 1996 and 2000, a streak that included an emotional winning effort at his hometown Royal Melbourne course in 1998.
Since 1970, he has also run a hugely successful golf course design business, meaning he is a regular visitor to Asia. While he no longer plays golf competitively, he remains an enthusiastic social player.
He is the second former Hong Kong Open champion to be feted by tournament organisers after 1959 and 1974 winner Lu Liang Huan was honoured last year.
The invitations have been extended as part of the build-up to the 50th edition of the event next year.
Kathryn Shih, Chief Executive of UBS Hong Kong Branch, was delighted that Thomson had agreed to attend.
“The unique tradition of the Hong Kong Open has always been one of the central elements of UBS’s partnership with Asia’s heritage tournament and the chance to bring that history to life is very important to us,” she said.
“Last year we were delighted to welcome the event’s first champion, Lu Liang Huan, to Fanling and this year we are thrilled that Peter Thomson, the second winner of the Open and a three-time champion, will join us as our special guest.
“The UBS Hong Kong Open’s history highlights what makes the tournament unique in regional golf and we look forward to celebrating that with Peter next month.”
Thomson will be honoured at the UBS Hong Kong Open Gala Evening at the Hong Kong Exhibition Centre, China Resources Building, Wanchai on November 13.
Guests – including many of the star players at this year’s tournament – will be shown a video montage of his greatest moments.
Thomson’s VIP appearance at the UBS Hong Kong Open is another boost for the US$2.25 million showpiece, which has already unveiled a world class field.
Former Masters champion Mike Weir and two-time US Open winner Retief Goosen will be joined in the line-up by fellow PGA Tour stars KJ Choi, Trevor Immelman, Stuart Appleby and Arron Oberholser.
Reigning champion José Manuel Lara will be back to defend his title while current Asian Tour UBS Order of Merit leader Liang Wenchong will fly the flag for China.
The UBS Hong Kong Open, promoted by Parallel Media Group, is again jointly sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours and more star players will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Open was first staged in 1959 – making it the territory’s oldest professional sporting event – and has been held every year at the Hong Kong Golf Club.