Chinese golfing greats, Liang Wen-chong and Zhang Lian-wei, will be joined by 19-year-old rising star, Dou Ze-cheng, at the 2016 UBS Hong Kong Open as each of the trio attempt to become the first player representing China to win the trophy in the tournament’s 58-year history. Zhang, who plays on the European Senior Tour, is appearing as the invited exemption player for title sponsor, UBS, while Dou is participating courtesy of an invitation from the Hong Kong Golf Club.
Participants at this year’s tournament, which takes place between 8 and 11 December at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling, include: defending champion and Olympic gold medalist, Justin Rose; reigning Masters champion, Danny Willett; Ryder Cup stars, Patrick Reed and Rafa Cabrera Bello; and former Hong Kong Open champions, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Scott Hend and Ian Poulter.
Thirty-eight-year-old Liang, who is a 20-time tour winner said: “I am very excited to be returning to play at the UBS Hong Kong Open alongside such a high-quality field. I have had a solid season with some good results achieved in Japan and a good run in Hong Kong would be a great confidence booster for next year. I feel my game is coming together again nicely so will be looking forward to doing well in Fanling this time round.”
A 51-year-old Zhuhai native, Zhang was the first Chinese golfer to win on the European Tour and the first Chinese golfer to be invited to compete in the Masters Tournament commented: “The UBS Hong Kong Open is one of the most prestigious tournaments in this part of the world, and an extremely difficult one to win given the strength of the field every year. I am delighted to return and would like to extend my sincere thanks to title sponsor UBS for the invitation. The composite course at the Hong Kong Golf Club is unique and always a pleasure to play on so I look forward to competing against the likes of Justin and Danny.”
Dou has ascended the Official World Golf Rankings. Having started the year outside of the top 400, the teenager romped through the season on the domestic circuit with four tournament wins, and four other top-10 finishes and now sits firmly inside the world’s top 200.
He said: “I am very excited to be playing at the UBS Hong Kong Open for the first time. The course suits my game very well, so I am looking forward to putting together a few good rounds of golf and making the weekend. It will be a great way for me to end the year.”
Ms Amy Lo, Head of UBS Wealth Management, Greater China Country Head of UBS, Hong Kong commented: “We are delighted that Zhang Lian-wei has accepted our invitation. A pioneer of Chinese golf, he embodies one of our main objectives, that is to grow the game among the local community.
“Zhang’s presence alongside the current Chinese number one Lian Wen-chong and the up and coming Dou Ze-cheng confirms that the game has both an illustrious past and a promising future in China.”
Jeffrey Lam, Chairman of the Mega Events Fund Assessment Committee, said: “It is great to see such a strong contingent of Chinese players participating at the UBS Hong Kong Open this week. With two legends in Zhang and Liang, together with one of the country’s most talented youngsters, Dou Ze-cheng, it will be a very interesting tournament for China. The diversity in terms of nationality, race and culture of the players at the UBS Hong Kong Open showcases the wide international appeal the tournament has, and with sport tourism continuing to boom, we look forward to welcoming more visitors from all over the world into Hong Kong as it hosts some of the biggest sporting spectacles.”
Supported by the Hong Kong Mega Events Fund, the UBS Hong Kong Open is the longest-running sporting event in Asia and is tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and Hong Kong Golf Association. In a new move for 2016, entry to the first two rounds on Thursday 8 and Friday 9, December will be free of charge. Visitors under 21 years can enjoy free entry to the Saturday and Sunday as well.