Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel, U.S. Open Champion Rory McIlroy and Open Champion Darren Clarke have all entered the WGC-HSBC Champions. They will be competing against World Ranked No. 2 and 3, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, defending Champion and fellow Ryder Cup star, Francesco Molinari and the 2011 Players Championship winner, KJ Choi who have all confirmed their intention to play in the final World Golf Championship event of 2011.
The Sheshan International Golf Club, Shanghai will host the 2011 WGC-HSBC Champions, November 3 – 6, 2011 for the seventh time and the third time since being elevated to the elite World Golf Championship status. This first wave of seven world class players to declare their intention to play in the tournament follows the same pattern as previous years where the world’s best players have flocked to compete in the fourth World Golf Championship of the year.
Lee Westwood, winner of more than 20 tournament titles and World Ranked No. 2, said, “I really enjoy visiting China and Shanghai is a fascinating place. I’ve finished second at the WGC-HSBC Champions twice now and I am determined to go one better this year. The Sheshan International Golf Club are great hosts and the course is up there with the best we play all year. One of my fondest memories from last year was learning a little bit of Tai Chi with Tiger, Phil and Martin down on The Bund so it will be interesting to see what we’ll get up to this year!”
Martin Kaymer, the 2010 U.S. PGA Champion and World No. 3 is eagerly anticipating arriving in Shanghai, explaining, “This will be my fourth time playing in the WGC-HSBC Champions and my best finish is sixth so I definitely want to improve on that. Having come second at the WGC-Accenture World Match Play earlier this year, I am hoping to go one better and win my first World Golf Championship event. So far in my career I have won tournaments in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East so now I am looking to win a tournament in Asia and, of course, I would love to win the biggest one there is. Players refer to the WGC-HSBC Champions as ‘Asia’s Major’ and it is the one we all want to win.”
World No. 4, Rory McIlroy, who won the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club with the lowest score in history of 16 under par, added, “Winning my first Major this year has obviously been amazing but I want to end my season with at least one more tournament win for sure. It would be pretty great if that could be at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai so I could pick up my first World Golf Championship title too."
The popular 42-year-old 2011 Open Champion, Darren Clarke, is hoping to add to the two World Golf Championship titles he already owns, explaining, “Winning the Open Championship in July is still very much on my mind and I haven’t played as well as I’d have liked in the few events since so I will be heading to China with the intention of finishing the remainder of my season on a high. This is actually the first time I have qualified since the HSBC Champions was upgraded to a World Golf Championship and, in a field of tournament winners, it is very special to qualify as the 2011 Open Champion.”
Defending Champion Francesco Molinari concluded, “I am really looking forward to returning to Shanghai to defend my title. It is the biggest tournament title I have won in my career so far and I am can’t wait to be announced on the tee at the Sheshan International Golf Club as the reigning champion this November. I think the secret to my victory last year was getting off to a fast start with an opening round of 65 and then I was able to carry on playing well to hold off so many great champions to win my first World Golf Championship title."
He continued, “When I first played there in 2009, I thought the course suited me and I finished 10th on my first outing so I knew I had a great chance last year to win despite the strength of the field. I really enjoy visiting Shanghai and think the course and facilities at Sheshan are as good as any we come across around the world.”
“This is such an interesting and exciting period in world golf,” said HSBC Group Head of Sponsorship Giles Morgan.
“We’re seeing a changing of the generations led by Rory McIlroy, who, by the time November comes around, will be joined by several more of these top young talents. They are all inspiring a younger generation of golf fans, which is exciting both for the sport and for us as a tournament sponsor. Then you have a talent like Martin Kaymer, who won our event in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of the year and is single-handedly creating an explosion in the popularity of golf in Germany. We are inching closer and closer to golf’s return to the Olympics in 2016 and it seems as if every step of the way the game is growing globally,” Morgan added.
The HSBC Champions is one of four World Golf Championships sanctioned and organized by the operational committee of the International Federation of PGA Tours, which includes the Asian Tour, European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, PGA TOUR, PGA Tour of Australasia and Sunshine Tour. The other World Golf Championships include the Accenture Match Play Championship, Cadillac Championship and the Bridgestone Invitational.
The 2011 WGC-HSBC Champions boasts a prize fund of $7,000,000. For regular field updates, the full qualifying criteria and more information, please visit www.hsbcgolf.com.