November 14, 2007 – Mike Weir is hoping he can maintain his resurgence in form as he makes his debut in the UBS Hong Kong Open this week.
The 2003 Masters champion – back to near his best after remodelling his swing – has beaten world No.1 Tiger Woods in the Presidents Cup and ended a three-year win drought on the PGA Tour in recent weeks.
Now he is looking to make a similar impact at the UBS Hong Kong Open, which begins on Thursday at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling.
“In the first part of the year, I was trying to get used to the changes and at the end of the year I was feeling more comfortable and played good at the Presidents Cup,” said the Canadian left-hander.
“I haven’t played since Scottsdale [where he won the Fry’s Electronics Open] so it’s been a good end to the year for me.”
Weir, 37, was full of praise for Fanling’s par-70 Championship Course after playing in Wednesday’s pro-am tournament.
“The golf course is great,” he said. “It’s very difficult on and around the greens. Through most parts, I think the tournament will be won or lost there.
“If you miss the greens, it follows all the way down that you don’t have much green to work with when you pitch it back up, so I think that’s going to be the tough part of the course.
“No.9 [a 493-yard par four] is a tough tee shot and there are a few other tough tee shots out there.
“I think the key is keeping it on the fairway, because if you miss it and land in the rough, it’s hard to control the distance in the rough.”
Another PGA Tour star making his debut at the UBS Hong Kong Open, Trevor Immelman, was also impressed by the course.
“It’s in great condition,” said the South African. “You need to drive the ball well and keep it in play and if you do that you can attack some of the pins.
“The greens are quite tricky because they are undulating and you need to be careful where you leave your second shot. I think it’s a pretty good test of golf and I don’t think guys are going to be shooting too many under par.
“I enjoy playing the golf course and we’ve had some great weather, so it’s all working out well so far.”
Immelman, 27, narrowly missed the cut in last week’s European Tour event in Shanghai but said he was better prepared for Hong Kong.
“I didn’t play well at all in Shanghai. I took four weeks off right before that and didn’t touch a club, so I was pretty rusty going there and I knew that would be the case,” he said.
“But I think my game is coming on, it’s been a week now and I’m getting things straightened out so, hopefully, come Sunday, I’ll give myself a chance.”
Weir and Immelman are part of a world class line-up at the UBS Hong Kong Open.
Joining them at the US$2.25 million showpiece are two-time US Open winner Retief Goosen and world No.11 KJ Choi.
Other top contenders at Fanling include Ryder Cup stars David Howell and Paul McGinley, 2006 UBS Hong Kong Open winner José Manuel Lara, and former Hong Kong champions Miguel Angel Jiménez and Simon Dyson.
A strong contingent from the Asian Tour is spearheaded by current UBS Order of Merit leader Liang Wenchong.
Six-time Major winner Nick Faldo is making a rare playing appearance as he takes on an “ambassadorial” role as a guest of UBS.
The UBS Hong Kong Open is again jointly sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours.
The Open was first staged in 1959 – making it the territory’s oldest professional sporting event – and has been held every year at the Hong Kong Golf Club.