Hong Kong: Major champions Ernie Els and YE Yang will headline the field at the 56th edition of the Hong Kong Open, which returns to Hong Kong Golf Club next week (October 16-19).
Els will be making his debut in the US$1.3 million event, which was first played in 1959 and became part of the European Tour International Schedule in 2002, when Spaniard Jose-Maria Olazabal took the title.
The South African has accumulated 70 professional career victories to date, including two on the Asian Tour (2005 BMW Asian Open in China and 2005 Qatar Masters).
The four-time Major winner will be hoping to celebrate his 45th birthday, which takes place on the Friday of the tournament, by adding the Hong Kong Open trophy to his vast collection.
Yang, who became Asia’s first Major champion when he won the 2009 US PGA Championship, will be making his sixth visit to the Hong Kong Open.The Korean’s best previous finish at Fanling was a tie for seventh place behind Rory McIlroy in 2011.
Since McIlroy’s victory, the Hong Kong event has been dominated by Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is bidding to become the first man to win the tournament three years in succession.
Jimenez became the oldest winner in European Tour history when he succeeded McIlroy as champion in 2012. He then broke his own record when he successfully defended his title at the end of last year.
Having finished level on 12-under-par, Jimenez, Stuart Manley and Prom Meesawat contested a play-off, which the evergreen Spaniard won courtesy of a 20-foot birdie putt at the first extra hole.
Manley and Prom, who won the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship on the Asian Tour this season, will both be bidding to go one better at Hong Kong Golf Club this year.
Other notable names in the line-up include China’s number one Liang Wen-chong; big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts; Frenchman Gregory Bourdy, who won the tournament in 2009; the winner of the 2013 Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award, Peter Uihlein; and his fellow American Rich Beem, who won the 2002 US PGA Championship.
The Hong Kong Open, which is being tri-sanctioned by the European Tour, Asian Tour and Hong Kong Golf Association, holds the distinction of being the only national championship in Asia to be held at the same golf club since its inauguration in 1959.
The tournament joined the Asian Tour in 2000, before being co-sanctioned the following year with the European Tour as part of the 2002 schedule.
Past winners include Major champions Bernhard Langer, Greg Norman, Peter Thomson, Tom Watson and Ian Woosnam.