Hong Kong: Australia’s Scott Hend is confident he can continue his sizzling form as he prepares to stage a successful defence for his UBS Hong Kong Open title when the prestigious event gets underway on Thursday.
The Australian arrived in Hong Kong in the best of form having won his seventh Asian Tour title in Macau last week and insists he is not feeling any pre-tournament jitters at the US$2million event that is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
“It’s always nice to have another victory in the bag which sets you up nicely for a good title defence. I’m playing well and I’m feeling good,” said Hend.
Hend will have to contend with one of the toughest field at the UBS Hong Kong Open in recent years.
No less than 30 Asian Tour champions including seven merit winners will attempt to wrestle the title from Hend, who will also face a stern test from American Dustin Johnson and England’s Justin Rose, both ranked in the world’s top-10.
“You’ve got to be patient around this golf course and plan your shots well. I’ve played well and won on this golf course before so I am ready for the challenge,” said Hend, who has always finished inside the top-five on the Order of Merit in 2014, 2013, 2009 and 2007.
Meanwhile Rose made his long awaited return to Hong Kong after four years, hoping to overcome the disappointment for missing the cut then.
“The Hong Kong Golf Club is a very strategic golf course. It’s a thinking man’s course and I was caught unprepared the last time,” said Rose.
The world number seven believes he is better prepared this time around and could be a worthy contender to the UBS Hong Kong Open title.
“There are quality players all around this week and if I can beat any of them, I deserve to be the UBS Hong Kong Open champion. I think I have a decent chance this week,” said Rose.
Johnson is also looking forward to making a memorable debut at the UBS Hong Kong Open.
“It’s great to be here in Hong Kong, experiencing the buzz and energy of this wonderful city. I’m enjoying myself and can’t wait for the week to get going,” said Johnson.
Looking to his title challenge, the American, who is renowned for his long drives, is ready to alter his approach to the traditional tree-lined tight Hong Kong Golf Club.
“I’ve got a two-iron in my bag which could be good for a golf course like this. More importantly you got to hit the fairways and avoid the rough to stand a good chance this week,” said the world number eight.
The return of UBS as title sponsor for the first time since 2012 has seen the prize purse for the tournament increase to US$2 million in 2015 from US$1.3 million last year.
The event is also supported by the Hong Kong SAR Government’s Mega Events Fund and sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and Hong Kong Golf Association.
With the funding support from the Mega Events Fund, the “UBS Hong Kong Open” has successfully secured the participation of a number of world’s leading golf players to play in this mega event.
Their presence will significantly boost the profile of the tournament as a major sporting event. The star names will not only support the promotion of this event, but will also help promote Hong Kong as a premier travel destination in the region and the local participation.
Past champions include Peter Thomson, Greg Norman, Ian Woosnam, Bernhard Langer, Tom Watson, José María Olazábal, Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Miguel Angel Jiménez and Colin Montgomerie.