A European victory in this week’s UBS Hong Kong Open would keep Kang Wook Soon’s name in the spotlight for at least another year.
The Korean was the last Asian player to win the tournament, in 1998, and his name usually crops up whenever talk turns to the chances of another Asian triumph in the prestigious event.
European Tour stars have won six in a row since Kang’s triumph and they will present another formidable challenge when the tournament tees off at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling on Thursday.
“It was a long time ago that I won here,” reflected Kang, who will line up in the 138-strong field. “I’m not sure why it’s been a while since an Asian has won in Hong Kong but maybe this is the time for an Asian winner this week.
“The standard of Asian golf has risen over the past few years and there are many more good players in the field these days.
“The likes of Thaworn Wiratchant, Thongchai Jaidee and KJ Choi could well challenge this week. As for me, I will try my best. I do like this golf course very much as it reminds me of some of our courses in Korea. I’m looking forward to the week here.”
The Asian challenge at Fanling will certainly be strong. Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Thaworn has already won four tournaments this year while Thongchai is second in the standings despite playing just a few Asian tournaments due to his European Tour commitments.
Choi, meanwhile, will tee-off in Hong Kong after another successful season in the United States in which he captured his third career PGA Tour title.
Heading the European contingent are UBS Hong Kong Open defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez, European Tour Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie and Ryder Cup duo Thomas Bjorn and Paul Casey.
Kang is looking forward to the tournament and is relishing playing at the Hong Kong Golf Club again.
“The golf course is in its best condition that I’ve seen for many years,” he said. “The fairways and greens are just perfect this week. With the narrow, tree-lined fairways, the course does suit Asian players. It’s not overly long.”