September 21, 2007 – In-form Liang Wenchong is targeting victory in November’s UBS Hong Kong Open as the perfect way to mark the 10th anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule.
No golfer from mainland China has ever won the storied event and the country’s current No.1 acknowledges he has the chance to write his name in the history books.
“I know there have been celebrations all year in Hong Kong to mark the 10th anniversary of the handover,” he said.
“It would be a dream come true for me to become the first mainland Chinese to win the UBS Hong Kong Open and to do it in such an important year would be extra special.
“It would also be a huge inspiration to all the up-and-coming professionals in China.”
Liang, 29, is enjoying the best season of his career. He captured his first title on the European and Asian Tours, the Clariden Leu Singapore Masters, in March and has seven other top 10 finishes this year.
He currently leads the Asian Tour’s UBS Order of Merit with earnings of US$454,734.
“It has been a fantastic year and obviously winning the Singapore Masters has been a major highlight,” he said. “To achieve my first European and Asian Tour victory was a great moment for me.
“It will be tough in Hong Kong because there will be some world class players taking part, but I will be doing my best and my victory in Singapore has given me a lot of confidence.”
The US$2 million UBS Hong Kong Open will be staged at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling from November 15-18.
“All the players regard the UBS Hong Kong Open as one of the best and most important events on tour,” added Liang. “It has a long history and some legendary players have won at Fanling.
“UBS have done a fantastic job with the title sponsorship in recent years – the prize money has increased significantly and the facilities for players and spectators have improved. It is a tournament we all look forward to very much.”
The Hong Kong 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.
The 2007 tournament will mark the third year of UBS’s four-year title sponsorship agreement.
“UBS’s support of golf across the Asia Pacific region continues to go from strength to strength and the UBS Hong Kong Open has been a tremendous success as our flagship event over the first two years of our partnership,” said Kathryn Shih, Chief Executive of UBS Hong Kong Branch.
“We are looking forward to making this year’s tournament even bigger and better in the build-up to its 50th edition next year,”
“China’s No.1 and the current leader of the Asian Tour’s UBS Order of Merit, Liang Wenchong, is certain to be one of the crowd favourites at this year’s UBS Hong Kong Open.
“It would be a momentous occasion if a great finish in Hong Kong would make him the first Chinese winner of the UBS Order of Merit, especially during the celebration of the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China.”
The UBS Hong Kong Open will once again have coveted “M” mark status from the HKSAR government – meaning it will receive official support as a sports event that has international significance and brings economic, social and cultural benefits to Hong Kong.
The tournament, 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.
European players have won the past eight editions of the Hong Kong Open, with Spain’s José Manuel Lara triumphing last year. Korea’s Kang Wook Soon was the last Asian player to lift the trophy, in 1998.