Tuesday, November 29, 2011


ALL ABOARD in Hong Kong Harbour - Hong Kong Open defending champion Ian Poulter with the trophy - and some friends - on a promotional boat ride. Image by courtesy of Getty Images.

Hong Kong: World No 2 Rory McIlroy is determined to win this week’s US$2.75 million UBS Hong Kong Open after several agonising close calls.
The reigning US Open champion, pictured left, lost in a play-off to
Chinese Taipei's Lin Wen-tang in 2008 and finished second behind Frenchman Gregory Bourdy in the following year. Last season, the swashbuckling Ulsterman contended for the title at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling before finishing sixth.
McIlroy, who went on a promotional boat ride in the Hong Kong harbour along with title-holder Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Y E Yang, Padraig Harrington and local amateur Justin Hak, said:
“You know, I've come close a couple of times. I was probably involved, for me, one of the best experiences I've ever had on a golf course here in 2008 in the play-off with Lin Wen-tang.
“Hong Kong is a tournament for me that is one of the first on my schedule every year. I absolutely love this place. I've loved it from the moment I got here in 2005 I think when I played the Faldo Series at Fanling and I've come back every year since. It's one of my favourite places in the world, and I'm really going to enjoy myself this week.”
The 22-year-old has enjoyed a magical ride in 2011, capped by a first Major title in June which came two months after a final day meltdown at the Masters Tournament where he blew a four-shot lead going into the final round.
McIlroy's ability to bounce back from his Masters heartbreak spoke volumes of his immense talent and determination to rise to the top of the world rankings where he is now ranked only behind Luke Donald of England.
“It's been an interesting year for me to say the least, from having a great chance at the start of the year at Augusta to win my first Major, and obviously not quite getting it done there. I learned a lot about myself and a lot about what I actually needed to do to become a Major champion, and I feel like I've put a lot of that experience into practice at the U.S. Open and it was great for me just to have the opportunity to prove myself at that tournament two months after what happened at Augusta.
“I've played very, very well this year. Climbing to No. 2 in the World Rankings feels like a big achievement for me, and it would be great to finish off the season well with a good result here. I would love to have the chance to win here; it's a tournament that I've wanted to win for the past number of years and haven't quite been able to do it. It's been a great year. There's been a few changes on the golf course, off the golf course, and I've enjoyed every minute of it.”
World No 16 Rose is making his debut at the UBS Hong Kong Open, which is jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour. He arrived in the bustling city in top form after combining with Poulter to finish second in the Omega Mission Hills World Cup on Sunday while representing England. But Rose is not expecting any insights into the tricky Fanling track from the title holder.
“It's actually funny. Last week he (Poulter) was full of tips for me, being World Cup partners, but this week they seem to have dried up,” said Rose as Poulter broke into a big smile.
“Out here on Tour, any advantage you gain, it's very hard earned and hard fought for. I'm sure he's not going to share his yardage book with me but speaking with these guys a few weeks ago, they did tell me what a fun tournament it is and they were very praising of the place itself.
“I had a good practice round today, I spent four and a half hours out there and hit a lot of putts around the greens and really tried to get a good feel for it because I know that's obviously a big advantage.”
Yang, Asia’s first Major champion when he won the 2009 US PGA Championship, is determined to improve on his showing at the UBS Hong Kong Open after finishing 29th and 19th in the past two seasons.
“It’s my third time consecutive to Hong Kong. It’s always good to be here; great food, great city,” said the South Korean strongman, who is an Asian Tour honorary member.
“Last two years, I haven't played as I've expected, so this year, I really want to take that trophy away from Ian!”



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