November 21, 2007 – Record crowds, fantastic weather and yet another thrilling finish – the UBS Hong Kong Open just gets better and better.
Last week’s US$2.25 million showpiece at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling attracted an astonishing total attendance of 31,000 – an increase of 10,000 on last year.
Fans were rewarded with sun-soaked weather and four days of brilliant golf, culminating in one of the most dramatic finales in the 49-year history of the tournament.
Miguel Angel Jiménez prevailed by one stroke in a nerve-shredding shootout, his bogey five on Fanling’s notorious 18th hole good enough to edge out playing partner Robert Karlsson, who finished with a double bogey.
It was the fifth year in a row that the title had gone down to the last putt and it made for incredible sporting theatre for the thousands of spectators who grabbed every available vantage point around the 18th green.
“It was, quite simply, the best Hong Kong Open ever,” said Martin Capstick of tournament promoter Parallel Media Group.
“The support the tournament has received from UBS over the past three years has taken it to the next level, especially in terms of prize money, field quality and spectator facilities.
“As a result, the Hong Kong public have really taken this event to their hearts and their interest in this year’s tournament was just incredible.
“We were blessed with some wonderful weather, the quality of the golf was world class and, of course, the Hong Kong Golf Club is a spectacular setting.
“But it is the fans who give the tournament its unique atmosphere and the attendance figures, especially on Sunday, were amazing. Two years ago we had 15,000 spectators, this year’s attendance was more than double that.”
Such large crowds would inevitably include people attending a golf tournament for the first time but Capstick pointed out that the galleries remained fully respectful of golf’s traditions.
“Senior figures from both the European and Asian Tours made a point of telling me that the on-course etiquette from the Hong Kong fans was the best they have seen in Asia by a considerable distance,” he said.
“Other tournaments have problems with mobile phones going off and fans talking during a player’s shot but the galleries at the UBS Hong Kong Open were, by and large, impeccably behaved.”
The players themselves were full of praise for the tournament in general and Fanling’s par-70 Championship Course in particular.
Jiménez, who was collecting his second Hong Kong Open title following his success three years ago, promised he would return next year.
“I like this course very much,” said the Spaniard. “I’ve been saying it since I won here in 2004. It’s an old fashioned golf course, a beautiful design.
“But it’s not just the course, it’s everything. I like to come here, I like the people here and I feel good here. It’s nice.”
Korean star KJ Choi, who finished joint runner-up alongside Swede Karlsson and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, echoed his sentiments.
“The UBS Hong Kong Open is a fantastic event,” said Choi. “Hong Kong is a special place and the tournament is great. UBS have done a wonderful job with it.”
While delighted with the 2007 event, UBS are already looking ahead to the 50th edition of “Asia’s heritage tournament” next year.
“There is no doubt in our mind that this year’s UBS Hong Kong Open was one of the very best ever,” said Oliver Bertschinger, Head of Sponsorship, UBS Asia Pacific.
“From Miguel Angel Jiménez’s thrilling final-hole victory to an outstanding playing field, with names like Retief Goosen, Mike Weir, Nick Faldo and many others, we are delighted with the event’s resounding success.
“In addition, an expanded campaign of promotions across Hong Kong, including those in which we partnered with the Hong Kong Government, helped us share the excitement of the UBS Hong Kong Open with more than 31,000 people for the first time which was a major milestone for the tournament.
“We look forward to now working with all of our partners to make next year’s 50th edition of the event even bigger and better.”