November 15, 2006 – Defending champion Colin Montgomerie is targeting victory in this week’s UBS Hong Kong Open to maintain one of golf’s most remarkable winning streaks.
The evergreen Scot has won somewhere around the world at least once every year since 1993 and knows he is running out of chances in 2006.
“I have successfully defended a few tournaments before and would very much like to do it this time,” he said.
“I haven’t won for a year now. I want to change that in a hurry and win here just in time for the calendar year. I’m looking forward to trying to do that.”
Montgomerie has three more tournaments after the UBS Hong Kong Open before taking a break for Christmas and New Year.
He admits he will have his work cut out to hold on to his crown when the US$2 million showpiece gets underway at the Hong Kong Golf Club on Thursday.
“We have a good field this year and it is getting more difficult to win around the world than ever before. There are a number of top Asian players who are showing they are capable of winning,” he said
“Before we had 10 or 15 people capable of winning at the start of the week and now we have 25 or 30, so it is definitely more difficult. In this part of the world, 10 of those additional 15 players are Asians, and you couldn’t have said that 10 years ago.
“It’s good for the Asian region and it says a lot about the ability of Asian players.”
Montgomerie will be one of the favourites this week in a top class field that includes Major champions Retief Goosen and Michael Campbell, four-time PGA Tour winner KJ Choi and Asian Tour UBS Order of Merit leader Jeev Milkha Singh.
But he insisted he would have to put last year’s Fanling victory out of his mind.
“That is forgotten and you have to start afresh. You just start with a little more confidence than everyone else because you have won and there are certain holes which bring back good memories.”
Korean star Choi finished joint runner-up, one shot behind Montgomerie, at Fanling last year and said he was happy to be back.
“I feel comfortable every time I come back to play here because I enjoy the course, it suits me very well,” he said.
“Here at Fanling, the tee shot is very important and so is the second shot. But the key is how the player is going to attack the pin. I think the player who has the strong second shot will have the edge.”
The UBS Hong Kong Open is the second event on the 2007 European Tour calendar and Irish ace Paul McGinley is aiming to get off to a good start after a disappointing 2006 by his standards.
“I’m looking forward to starting and hopefully I can play better than last year and as good as I did the year before,” he said.
“Last year wasn’t a good year for me – I finished down on the Order of Merit but, when I look back on my career, it will be a year which will stand out for me for my experience of the Ryder Cup in Ireland.
“I’ve played well for the last couple of months since just before the Ryder Cup. I feel I’ve played the golf I know I’m capable of, so I want to continue that form this week.”
The 2006 UBS Hong Kong Open is once again co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours and promoted by Parallel Media Group.