A stellar line-up of Asian Tour stars that features four Order of Merit champions along with Tour winners that hold more than 20 victories in total will tee up at the WGC-HSBC Champions which gets underway on Thursday.
The final World Golf Championship of the year will be played at the Sheshan International Golf Club where many of the world’s leading players are set for battle at the lucrative US$9.75 million event.
Malaysia’s Gavin Green, who is currently leading the Order of Merit, will spearhead the Asian Tour charge that includes Korean-American David Lipsky, Australia’s Scott Hend and India’s S.S.P. Chawrasia. The quartet qualified for the Chinese showpiece as the leading four players from the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
“Playing in a WGC event was definitely something on my bucket list and I’m happy I’ve managed to tick that off now. Thankfully, this opportunity came early. This is obviously a big week with many of the top players here,” Green said. “I’m trying to forget as much as I can about last week and try to restart and put into practice what I’ve learnt from last week. I feel like I’m getting there, feeling comfortable and confident about playing in high profile events like this one. I’m enjoying it. This is a very challenging course especially when the winds get up. It’s not an easy course. I’m just going to enjoy and do the best I can.”
Other Asian Tour stars at the WGC-HSBC Champions include Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Phachara Khongwatmai, Poom Saksansin, Japan’s Daisuke Kataoka and Shugo Imahira, Australia’s Andrew Dodt and the Chinese duo of Liang Wen-chong and Liu Yan-wei.
“I’ve been playing very well for the last four to five months and everything has been working well so far. I’m just looking for that next big break again. I almost got it in Italy but fell short. But it’s okay, I’ll try again. I’m looking for a big jump up the world rankings this week. And as for the target I’ve set for myself, I’m looking for a top 10 finish,” said the long-hitting Thai, Kiradech. “With the way I’m swinging and striking the ball, I’m really feeling very comfortable and confident on the golf course. I’ve played at the Sheshan International Golf Club on a few occasions. I couldn’t really produce my A game here in the past but it’s going to be different this week.”
Their title ambitions will be put to test by the might of defending champion and world number four Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, and world number one and 2013 Champion Dustin Johnson.
The star-studded field will also include the three Olympic medallists, Justin Rose (Gold), Henrik Stenson (Silver), and Matt Kuchar (Bronze), as well as Marc Leishman, winner of the PGA’s BMW Championship earlier this month, Brooks Koepka, 2017 US Open Champion, US Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed, 2013 Masters Champion Adam Scott, and five-time Major winner Phil Mickelson.
Did you know?
- Malaysia’s Gavin Green is in the field due to his standing on the Asian Tour Order of Merit where he is currently leading.
- Green won the Mercuries Taiwan Masters for his first Asian Tour title earlier this month and his career breakthrough came two weeks after he had finished runner-up for the third time this season in Korea.
- Green was the first amateur to win on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) in 2014.
- As an amateur golfer, Green enjoyed a strong college career representing the University of New Mexico and won eight times and was a multiple-time All-American. He was in the same conference with 2016-17 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year, Xander Schauffele.
- Green finished second on the 2016 ADT Order of Merit to earn his Asian Tour card for 2017. He also represented his country at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
- Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnat, the 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, narrowly missed out on his second win on European soil when he finished tied-second in Italy a fortnight ago.
- Kiradech earned his place at WGC-HSBC Champions as one of the top-30 players from the European Tour’s 2017 Race to Dubai rankings.
- Ranked 211 and 239 on the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) respectively, Thailand’s Poom Saksansin and Phachara Khongwatmai will be making their debuts at the WGC-HSBC Champions. They were the highest ranked OWGR reserve players to earn their spots following late withdrawals.
- David Lipsky will be making his third appearance at the WGC-HSBC Champions having played in the 2012 and 2014 editions.
- Lipsky enjoyed a runner-up finish in Malaysia at the start of the year and is currently in second place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.