His body aches after 'beating an awful lot of golf balls', but six-time Major winner Nick Faldo believes he can be a surprise package in the US$700,000 Omega Hong Kong Open, starting at Fanling tomorrow. Faldo, 45, admits he is very much the 'seasoned campaigner' rather than the golfing phenomenon who triumphed in his last visit to the Hong Kong Golf Club 12 years ago. 'But I hope to spring a big surprise,' said Faldo, who will meet plenty of opposition from defending champion Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain, Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee and China's Zhang Lianwei over the four days. Faldo admitted his best playing days were behind him. 'It's not fair,' he laughed. 'The body's down a few million miles of travelling and I've beaten an awful lot of golf balls,' said the Englishman, who makes a nostalgic return to the fairways of Fanling with memories of his superb win at the 1990 inaugural Johnnie Walker Classic still fresh in his mind. That year he also won the US Masters and the British Open. 'Yes, 1990, I was right at the peak of my [powers]. I won two Majors that year and it doesn't get much better than that. I am a seasoned campaigner now. Nowadays, my knees ache, my elbow aches and the body is a bit older. 'I've passed through Hong Kong en route a few times before, over-nighting or just spending short trips but not to play. I didn't realise it's been 12 years since I last played here,' said Faldo, who arrived in a helicopter for yesterday's press conference at the OGC Golf City on the old Kai Tak airport runway. Faldo had already taken the world by storm and was an established big-name when he fired a stunning third-round, nine-under-par 62 - a course record at the time - on his way to victory in the Johnnie Walker Classic. 'I remember shooting 62 at Fanling - that was good, wasn't it? It was the inaugural Johnnie Walker. It's nice to be back to play. It will be interesting to see what it [the course] looks like,' said the three-time winner of both the British Open and US Masters. 'I shot a couple of 62s and anything less than that is really low. I hit a [great] shot from the bunker on the par-five coming in [at Fanling]. Those were the days when I could hit it and hit again and it went in the hole.' Faldo, who has not won since the 1997 Nissan Open at Pacific Palisades in California, will be making the transition from playing in two recent matchplay tournaments, but said being the 'thorough professional' he is, returning to strokeplay competition would not be a problem. 'I played in the World Matchplay and the Warburg Cup in the US. I have been working on my swing as always and working on my putting and I am keen to try out a few different things. So I am looking forward to the week.' Faldo didn't rule himself out of contention this week, saying a 'good start' was vital. 'I'd like to get off to a good start. That's the key. I really would like to get out and play really well from day one. 'That's important for me, to get out there. I have been striking the ball well and I just have to put it all together and it will be interesting to see what happens over the four days.' Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal will be hoping for a different story from last week but the same tale as last year as he puts his title on the line at the Omega Hong Kong Open. Olazabal, who hit the 'perfect shot' to the 18th hole at the Hong Kong Golf Club to nail last year's tournament, said he had been struggling lately on the greens. But the two-time US Masters champion hopes his fortunes will change when he competes in the tournament that saw him pip overnight leader Henrik Bjornstad of Norway by one stroke. 'Winning the tournament last year was a pivotal moment in my career as it gave me an enormous amount of confidence, and was reward for all the hard work I had put into my game. It only seems right that I return to Hong Kong to defend my title,' said Olazabal. 'I feel good with what happened last year. It was a very special tournament for me. It got me going for this year and that was very important,' said the 36-year-old Spaniard. 'However, my game is not as sharp as it was last year, mainly because of my putting. I was making a lot of putts last year. It's a different year and a different feeling, but I will try to do the best I can. 'I struggled on the greens last week in Taipei [BMW Asian Open, where he finished 41st]. I struggled to make putts all week long. My putting is not all that bad. Maybe, I am struggling with the pace more than anything else. The second half of my season has been off. I haven't really been able to pinpoint what the problem is.' Olazabal believes this year's Open field is stronger than last year and he tipped Thongchai to make an impact. Thongchai, a three-time winner on the Davidoff Tour, impressed with a runner-up finish behind Scotland's Colin Montgomerie in the TCL Classic in Guangdong this month. 'Jaidee didn't hit the driver that well last week but his short game was good. If he manages to hit the ball straight off the tee, he will be in contention this week,' said Olazabal. 'This year, we have Nick Faldo and Thomas Bjorn. Last year, we had Adam Scott, who was playing very well. The field is a bit stronger.' Ryder Cup star Bjorn is another of the top players from Europe who is expected to mount a serious challenge. Bjorn won the BMW International Open in Germany this season, shortly before playing a key role in Europe's victory over the United States in the Ryder Cup. The Dane is a seven-time winner on the European Tour and will be a threat with his solid and powerful game. 'One of the main reasons for coming to Hong Kong is that I had heard so much about the tournament. I played in Japan [Dunlop Phoenix Open in Miyazaki] last week and I had a solid game [he finished 12th]. 'I hope I will have a big week in Hong Kong,' said the 31-year-old, who produced the best performance of his career by winning the 2001 Dubai Desert Classic despite playing in the same group as Tiger Woods in all four rounds and pipping the world's top player. The Omega Hong Kong Open will act as the penultimate event on this year's Davidoff Tour and will be the second leg of the European Tour's 2002-03 season.