Australian Scott Barr eyes second straight title at Hong Kong PGA Championship

The 46-year-old is expected to face stiff competition from four-time winner Unho Park and American Anthony Kang

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2017, 5:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2017, 10:41pm

Scott Barr says he is ready for the challenge of defending his title at the 34th edition of the FTLife Hong Kong PGA Championship, which gets underway at Fanling on Wednesday.

The 46-year-old Australian, an Asian Tour regular who captured his first title with a stirring performance to deny compatriot Unho Park an unprecedented fifth straight victory last January, said he was looking forward to kicking off his 2017 campaign with a second straight victory in Hong Kong.

“After getting the monkey off my back last time around by finally dethroning Unho, I feel like I’ve got a lot to prove this week,” said Singapore-based Barr, whose best result on the Asian Tour in 2016 came at the Yeangder TPC in Taiwan where he finished in a tie for third.

“I’ve been able to have a good break after the UBS Hong Kong Open and my game is in decent shape. The field is as strong as it normally is, possibly even stronger this time, but I fancy my chances over three courses I really love playing.”

The 54-hole championship will be played in its traditional three-course format, with the New Course at the Hong Kong Golf Club hosting the first round before the players move to Eden Course, also at Fanling, on day two. Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club will provide a fitting finale for the all-important last round.

Barr will come up against strong opposition in his quest for the record-equalling HK$500,000 title, with a full field of HKPGA pros eager to wrest the trophy away from his hands, in addition to other Asian Tour notables.

Among Barr’s main contenders will be four-time winner Park and Anthony Kang, who will be making his debut at the tradition-rich event.

“I’ve heard so much about the championship that I had to come and experience it for myself,” said American Kang, who has three Asian Tour victories to his credit. “I’m looking forward to the challenge – but hopefully I’ll be able to have some fun too.”

Kang is no stranger to Hong Kong – and has played some of his best golf in the city. A the 2010 Hong Kong Open, the Phoenix-based player fired a brilliant 61 in the second round on his way to a fourth-placed finish behind that year’s champion, Ian Poulter.

No local player has triumphed at the championship since Dominique Boulet in 2004, but after recently turning pro, former Hong Kong amateur stars Steven Lam and Shinichi Mizuno have the home course advantage and talent to cause an upset.

Stuart Fraser, of FTLife Insurance Company, said: “Scott [Barr] will be feeling confident, but he’ll have his work cut out with both Unho [Park] and Anthony [Kang] sure to be in the hunt. Unho, having won four straight titles before Scott got the better of him last time, will be especially motivated to reclaim his title.

“I also expect a strong Hong Kong challenge, which would be great to see. This is why we started our involvement in the championship back in 2010 – to show our commitment to professional golf in Hong Kong and to provide local players with a high-quality playing environment in which to compete.”