Rory Sabbatini is aiming to make all the right moves in this week’s UBS Hong Kong Open after likening the tournament course to chess.
“It’s a very traditional course with everything out there in front of you,” the South African star said of the tight par-70 layout at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling.
“You know exactly what’s ahead. It’s a course which requires you to put it in all the right spots.
“It’s like a game of chess where you have to get in the right position all the way round the golf course. Ultimately you have to putt well to give yourself a good chance.”
Sabbatini is making his second successive appearance in the UBS Hong Kong Open, which tees off tomorrow (Thursday).
“Last year was my first trip to Asia and it was a very entertaining one which I enjoyed very much,” he said.
“The tournament here at the UBS is a very historic one with a lot of tradition and history behind it and it’s a pleasure to be here.”
He agreed that golf in Asia is going through boom times. “I think the whole world realises Asia is becoming more important in every regard. Especially in China, golf is exploding into their culture, it’s very exciting.
“It’s great to see the knowledge of golf expand and it’s now been included in the Olympics so that’s even more exciting. It’s something to keep your eye on.”
Although he claimed his fifth career PGA Tour title at the HP Byron Nelson Championship in Texas last May, Sabbatini feels his season could have been better.
“I’d say even though I won it’s been a disappointing year. I felt I was striking the ball well and doing all the right things but not getting the ball in the hole.
“Ultimately, golf is a game where you have to get the ball in the hole so I was doing things backwards.
“But I learnt a lot about my ability on the course and the way I hit the ball so I’m very excited about next year.”
Sabbatini played an expanded schedule in 2009 but is keeping an open mind about next year. “This is my first year being a member of the European Tour and I have enjoyed it,” he said.
“Next year I can’t make any predictions on my schedule. I play full time on the PGA Tour so that is my first priority and then in regards to the European Tour, it depends on the schedule.
“This week, I just want to go out and put in a good performance.”
Other stars on show in the US$2.5 million UBS Hong Kong Open include Asia’s first Major winner, Yang Yong Eun, world No.4 Lee Westwood and former British Open champions Mark O’Meara and Ben Curtis.
Returning to Fanling are defending champion Lin Wen Tang and the man he beat in last year’s unforgettable playoff duel, world No.17 Rory McIlroy.
In addition, English ace Ian Poulter – the world No.13 and recent winner of the Singapore Open – and Northern Irish star Darren Clarke, a 13-time winner on the European Tour, are in the line-up.
The UBS Hong Kong Open – Hong Kong’s oldest professional sporting event, having started in 1959 – is once again co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours.