November 9, 2007 – The race to be crowned Asia’s No.1 golfer will enter a decisive stage at next week’s UBS Hong Kong Open.
Nine of the top 10 players on the Asian Tour’s UBS Order of Merit will be teeing it up at the US$2.25 million showpiece as the season nears its end.
China’s top player, Liang Wenchong, leads the money list with earnings of US$495,150 while South Africa’s Anton Haig lies second at US$427,685.
Both players will be taking part in the UBS Hong Kong Open, as will fourth-placed Chapchai Nirat of Thailand, who has earned US$340,333 this year.
But, with US$375,000 on offer to the winner, the Open could see a major shake-up in the standings.
“The UBS Hong Kong Open has attracted all our leading players from the UBS Order of Merit, with the exception of Scott Hend who is in the US Tour Qualifying School,” said Kyi Hla Han, executive chairman of the Asian Tour. “This reflects wonderfully on the importance of the UBS Hong Kong Open which will play a major role in determining the new UBS Order of Merit champion.
“With so much to play for, especially when a record purse of US$2.25 million is on offer next week, I am sure the contenders will be eager to sparkle in what is truly a wonderful and prestigious championship at the Hong Kong Golf Club.”
But the Asian Tour players will have it far from their own way when the Open is staged at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling on November 15-18.
The event is again co-sanctioned by the European Tour, meaning there will be some world class opposition in the 144-strong field.
In addition, this year sees an influx of established US PGA Tour stars, including 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir, Stuart Appleby and Trevor Immelman, who are all making their Hong Kong debuts.
Two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen and world No.11 KJ Choi – a six-time winner on the PGA Tour – will also be among the favourites.
Other contenders will include former Hong Kong champions Miguel Angel Jiménez and Simon Dyson, Ryder Cup stars David Howell and Paul McGinley and 2006 UBS Hong Kong Open winner José Manuel Lara.
The stellar line-up means any Asian Tour player who does hit the jackpot and moves up the UBS Order of Merit will have done it the hard way.
Liang, 29, is enjoying the best season of his career, the highlight being victory in the co-sanctioned Singapore Masters last March when he beat Malaysia’s Iain Steel in a playoff. In addition, he has eight other top 10 finishes this year.
He is aiming to become the first mainland player ever to be crowned Asia’s No.1 golfer.
His UBS Order of Merit pursuers also won co-sanctioned events in March – Haig clinched the Johnnie Walker Classic in Phuket, Thailand, while Chapchai landed the TCL Classic in Sanya, China.
After Hong Kong, there will be just three events remaining on the Asian Tour that count towards the final UBS Order of Merit standings.