November 6, 2008 – PGA Tour ace Rory Sabbatini and former US Open champion Michael Campbell will be aiming to add the UBS Hong Kong Open titles to their impressive CVs this month.
The illustrious duo will be joined in the US$2.5 million showpiece by European Tour hotshot Graeme McDowell and Indian star Jeev Milkha Singh.
The 50th edition of the UBS Hong Kong Open will be staged at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling from November 20-23.
Sabbatini – a four-time winner in the US – will be making his Hong Kong debut. “I’m really looking forward to playing in my first UBS Hong Kong Open,” said the South African.
“The guys on the PGA Tour who’ve played at Fanling tell me it’s a great course and a fantastic event, and the fact that it’s the 50th tournament will make it even more special. I know as well that Hong Kong is a great city so it promises to be a memorable trip.”
Sabbatini will be visiting Hong Kong after a solid season that saw him register three top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, including second place in the Sony Open in Hawaii.
“”I understand that in the past 49 years, David Frost has been the only South African to win the Hong Kong Open, although others have been close, so it would be nice if I could become the second. I’ll certainly be giving it my best shot,” he added.
Campbell joined golf’s elite as a Major champion when he won the 2005 US Open after holding off the challenge of World No.1 Tiger Woods.
He was the first New Zealander to win a Major since Bob Charles in 1963, prompting widespread celebrations in his homeland. He followed up by winning the World Match Play Championship.
Campbell has made two previous appearances in the Hong Kong Open, including a top-10 finish in 2003.
McDowell made an impact in his first UBS Hong Kong Open last year when he finished sixth.
It was the start of a glorious campaign for the Northern Irishman as he captured two European Tour titles and made his Ryder Cup debut on his way to a fifth-place finish in the Order of Merit.
“It was my first time playing the UBS Hong Kong Open last year and I had a fantastic week – four good rounds and a top-10 finish,” said McDowell.
“The course is beautiful and the fans were tremendous, so I have some fond memories and I’m looking forward to going back.
“The UBS Hong Kong Open came at the start of a great season for me and hopefully that will prove the case this time as well.”
The globe-trotting Jeev has won three times on the European Tour, including the 2008 Austrian Open, has a victory in Japan to his name this year and currently lies second on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit.
The quartet will join a strong UBS Hong Kong Open line-up that includes defending champion Miguel Angel Jiménez and former winners Colin Montgomerie, José María Olazábal and the legendary Bernhard Langer.
Another illustrious player in the Fanling field will be six-time Major winner Nick Faldo.
“In the 50th year of the UBS Hong Kong Open, we are extremely happy to continue to welcome the world’s best players to Fanling,” said Oliver Bertschinger, Head of Sponsorship, UBS Asia Pacific.
“Rory Sabbatini’s first visit to this historic championship will be something special for Hong Kong golf fans, while having two-time 2008 winner and Ryder Cup player Graeme McDowell is another great addition to the event.
“Michael Campbell, another Major winner to join the field, and the former Asian number one Jeev Milkha Singh are also favourites in Hong Kong and will be warmly welcomed back in a couple of weeks’ time.”
The UBS Hong Kong Open – first staged in 1959 – is the oldest professional sports event in Hong Kong and is considered the “jewel in the crown” of Asian golf with a history that no other tournament in the region can match.
No less than nine of its winners have also been Major champions – Olazábal and Langer plus Padraig Harrington, Tom Watson, Ian Woosnam, Greg Norman, Orville Moody, Peter Thomson and Kel Nagle.