October 3, 2006 – Defending champion Colin Montgomerie and Major winners Retief Goosen and Michael Campbell will spearhead a world class line-up at next month’s US$2 million UBS Hong Kong Open.
The star trio are among the first players to be confirmed for the tournament, to be held at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling on November 16-19.
The event will also feature a strong line-up of Asia’s best players led by Indian Jeev Milkha Singh, current leader of the Asian Tour’s UBS Order of Merit, and China’s No.1, Liang Wenchong.
Scottish ace Montgomerie is looking forward to returning to the scene of his thrilling one-shot triumph last year.
“I’m delighted to be returning to the UBS Hong Kong Open as champion and cannot wait to get back to the Hong Kong Golf Club,” he said.
“I benefited from my fair share of luck on my way to winning last year, but it was a real honour to see my name go on the trophy alongside names such as Peter Thomson, Tom Watson, my European colleagues Ian Woosnam and José Maria Olazábal and also some of Asia’s best players.”
The US$2 million total purse for this year’s tournament marks an US$800,000 increase on 2005 as UBS underlines its commitment to Asian golf in general and the Hong Kong Open in particular.
“With this year’s boost in prize money, UBS has really established the tournament as one of the elite events in the region,” added Montgomerie, winner of a staggering 42 titles worldwide and a key member of Europe’s recent Ryder Cup-winning team.
“I’m looking forward to trying my luck at successfully defending the title, which I know hasn’t happened very often in the last 50 years or so.”
Taiwan’s Hsieh Yung Yo remains the only player to have won back-to-back titles in Hong Kong, in 1963 and 1964.
Goosen, the US Open champion in 2001 and 2004 and current world No.6, will be making his first appearance in Hong Kong.
“The players are all aware that the UBS Hong Kong Open is one of the traditional events of Asian golf and that some great players, including Monty last year and plenty of Major winners, have won the title,” said the South African.
“I would love to be able to add my name to the list of players that have won this event and a Major, which is a pretty exclusive club.
“I have heard many great things about Hong Kong as well. The combination of a great event, people who love their golf and an exciting city has me really looking forward to being in Hong Kong in November.”
Campbell, who joined golf’s elite with his victory in last year’s US Open, is looking forward to returning to Fanling after finishing joint 10th in the Hong Kong Open three years ago.
“I have some great memories of playing in Hong Kong in 2003, especially as I played well that year,” said the New Zealander. “I’m really excited about being back for this year’s UBS Hong Kong Open and visiting the city itself once again.
“Hong Kong has a real buzz to it and is easily one of the most dynamic cities we visit on the European Tour. The lights, the noise and the food … they all add up to a great place and I’m really looking forward to coming back.”
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 2006 tournament will mark the second year of UBS’s four-year title sponsorship agreement.
“Last year’s UBS Hong Kong Open was a tremendous success and we are looking forward to working with all our partners to make this year’s tournament even bigger and better in the build-up to the tournament’s 50th edition in 2008,” said Kathryn Shih, Chief Executive of UBS Hong Kong Branch.
“With the participation of players such as Colin Montgomerie, Retief Goosen and Michael Campbell, this year’s UBS Hong Kong Open stands to consolidate its reputation as the heritage tournament of Asian golf.
“The values and traditions of the event make the UBS Hong Kong Open the ideal showcase of our Asia-Pacific golf sponsorship programme and we are eagerly looking forward to play getting underway at Fanling on November 16.”
Current Asian money list leader Singh is relishing the challenge of staying ahead of his rivals at Fanling.
“For the Asian Tour players, the UBS Hong Kong Open is a jewel in the crown at the end of the season and, for me, it will be a crucial tournament in the fight for the UBS Order of Merit,” he said.
“A lot of benefits come with being the Asian No.1 and, with US$2 million on offer this year, the tournament will be a great chance for me to clinch the title before the last event of the year.”
The UBS Hong Kong Open will once again have coveted “M” mark status from the 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, will once again be 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 seven editions of the Hong Kong Open. Korea’s Kang Wook Soon was the last Asian player to lift the trophy, in 1998.