(Hong Kong, Tuesday December 3, 2013) Four record-breaking stars 34 years apart in age launched the Hong Kong Open at a press conference on Tuesday, with defending champion Miguel Angel Jiménez joining Chinese players Zhang Lianwei, Guan Tianlang and Jason Hak.
Jiménez last year became the oldest winner in European Tour history when he won at Hong Kong Golf Club aged 48 years and 318 days, in doing so completing a Hong Kong hat-trick by adding to the titles he claimed in 2005 and 2008.
The charismatic Spaniard had already begun amassing his 19 European Tour trophies by the time 15 year old Guan was born in 1998, and the teenager is one of China’s most promising talents, becoming the youngest player to make the cut in a Major Championship when he finished 58th at the Masters Tournament in April at the age of 14 years and 169 days.
Hak was also a teenage prodigy, setting a new record at the 2008 Hong Kong Open for the youngest player to make the cut in a European Tour event, aged 14 years and 304 days, which Guan’s effort at Augusta National bettered.
The pair will hope to follow in the footsteps of 48 year old Zhang, who blazed a trail for Chinese golf, becoming the first player from his country to play in the Masters, to break into the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking and to win a European Tour event, the 2003 Singapore Masters.
The quartet kicked off the 55th edition of the Hong Kong Open, which boasts a rich history and is one of few golf tournaments to have been played at the same venue – Hong Kong Golf Club – every year since its inception in 1959.
The US$1.3million event is tri-sanctioned by The European Tour, the Asian Tour and the Hong Kong Golf Association.
Tom Phillips, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Golf Association, said: “Looking at our panel of star players this afternoon, we not only have stars of Hong Kong Opens past but also potential stars of the future in the form of Tianlang and Jason.
“I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to the captain and committee of the Hong Kong Golf Club and its members for playing such an important role in hosting and supporting the championship this year. Their support has been vital in bringing the tournament to fruition.
“I would also like to thank the M-mark committee for their continued support and recognition of the Hong Kong Open as one of Hong Kong’s premier sporting events.”
Sidney Cheng, captain of Hong Kong Golf Club, added: “We are very proud of the rich traditions and history surrounding the Open and we look forward to celebrating those traditions here this week.
“We are all delighted to see defending champion Miguel Angel Jiménez return to Hong Kong and we wish him the best of luck in adding a fourth Hong Kong Open title to his list of victories. He would become just the second player to achieve this if he prevails this week.”
Jiménez, who hopes to follow Hsieh Yung-yo in winning the Hong Kong Open four times – the Taiwanese player triumphed in 1963, 64, 75 and 77 – said: “I came here for the first time in 2004 (at the beginning of the 2005 season) and won. I love the city and I especially like the golf course.
“It’s an old fashioned course and you have to have a very intelligent and precise game here. It’s in super shape this year – the greens are firm and the fairways are immaculate.”
The players helped with the cake cutting ceremony to celebrate the tournament’s 55th edition, and after the press conference they visited the Heritage Centre, located at Hong Kong Golf Club, to learn more about the history and transformation of the event.
Sidney Cheng, Captain of the Hong Kong Golf Club (far left) and Tom Phillips, Chief Executive Officer of the Hong Kong Golf Association (far right) pose for photos with the Hong Kong Open Trophy with players at the Hong Kong Open Heritage Centre
Miguel Angel Jiménez, the Defending Champion of the Hong Kong Open, celebrates the 55th anniversary of the prestigious Championship with fellow players Jason Hak, Zhang Lianwei and Guan Tianlang in front of the 99-year old historic clubhouse