Major champion Sergio Garcia out to master Fanling on Hong Kong Open debut
World number five confirmed for November 23-26 event at Hong Kong Golf Club alongside defending champion Sam Brazel from Australia
Masters champion Sergio Garcia will look to join a distinguished list of Spaniards to have their name added to the UBS Hong Kong Open trophy at a Hong Kong Golf Club course that should suit the eye of the world number five having already prevailed at August and his favoured Valderrama.
With Jose Maria Olazabal, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Manuel Lara all previous winners at Fanling, 37-year-old Garcia will make his debut over the composite course in November alongside defending champion Sam Brazel from Australia.
The play-off win over former Hong Kong Open champion Justin Rose at Augusta in April ended Garcia’s wait for a major title and leaves the six-time Ryder Cup winner second on the European Tour order of merit, with the US$2 million event at Fanling the first event of the 2018 calendar in Europe a week after the 2017 season finale in Dubai.
And with the tight, tree lined Hong Kong Golf Club course bearing similarities with Augusta and the Valderrama layout where Garcia won in 2011 and where he will host the Andalucia Valderrama Masters in Spain in October, the 13-time European Tour winner will be one to watch between 23-26 November.
“I have heard many great things and have had friends who have won there. They told me the course is really good, it is not a long course but it is narrow, and they all tell me that it is the type of course that I will enjoy playing and that will fit my game,” said Garcia from his home in Switzerland where he is enjoying a break after marrying Angela Akins last month.
“One of my favourite courses is Valderrama and I think the tree line at Hong Kong is similar, not exactly the same, but a lot of dog legs and the greens are not massive, so those are the kind of courses I like.
“The winning score is not too low so it shows the toughness of the course, and those are the kind of courses I enjoy playing.”
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Brazel denied another Spainiard, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, claiming the title last year with an emotional maiden victory following a nerveless birdie on the final green.
“Having Sergio is going to be great a great buzz and I look forward to challenging myself against a player of his calibre,” said Brazel. “I look forward to coming back to Hong Kong Golf Club to defend my title.
Watch: Interview with 2016 Hong Kong Open champion Sam Brazel
“[The win] has massively changed my life. Getting the opportunity to play in Europe now has been a privilege and it has been a buzz to play with the calibre of players that are playing in Europe.”
Garcia, meanwhile, has maintained his form since Augusta and claimed a runner-up finish at the BMW International Open in Germany in June as well as tied for 12th place finishes at the WGC - Mexico Championship and Dean & Deluca Invitational.
He also finished tied for 21st at the US Open and tied for 27th at the British Open.
“My goals are still the same to keep improving and keep being consistent like I have been fortunate to be during my career, and also put myself in more winning situations and win as many tournaments as possible,” added Garcia, who confirmed his green jacket from Augusta and new wife Angela are likely to make the trip to Hong Kong.
“I don’t set myself a number of wins, I just try and put myself in the winning situation as much as possible. The most important thing is to keep consistent, and I have been fortunate to do that during my whole career.
“Winning is still as tough as it was before, obviously winning the Masters was amazing and it gives you a bit of a relief, but it does not make winning easier.”
The event, which is also near the end of the 2017 Asian Tour season, will again offer free admission to spectators for the first two rounds.