Hong Kong: Major champion Henrik Stenson will make his Hong Kong Open debut next month.
The Swede will join defending champion Aaron Rai in a star-studded field in the opening event of the European Tour’s 2020 Race to Dubai, from November 28-December 1.
Hosted by Hong Kong Golf Club, the Hong Kong Open will also play a decisive role in shaping the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit as it is one of the last events on the Tour’s 2019 schedule.
“We are delighted to be welcoming Henrik Stenson to our club for the very first time,” said William Doo Jr, Captain of Hong Kong Golf Club, a Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
“The championship, which is now in its 61st year, has a strong track record of attracting the greatest names in golf, and Henrik is among the very best. His involvement, as well as that of our defending champion Aaron Rai, who played so brilliantly to capture his first European Tour title last year, makes for a really exciting event. We look forward to hosting another spectacular week of world-class golf,” added Doo.
Stenson became the first male Scandinavian Major winner when he triumphed in The 145thOpen at Royal Troon three years ago, and will be aiming to add to his 11 European Tour wins when he tees it up at the Fanling venue in the latest edition of Hong Kong’s longest standing professional sporting event.
The Ryder Cup star lifted the Claret Jug in 2016 after he recorded a 63 on Sunday in a thrilling battle with Phil Mickelson.
The 43-year-old, who topped the Race to Dubai in 2013 and 2016, is looking forward to his maiden appearance at the Hong Kong Golf Club, which is celebrating its 130thanniversary this year.
“I’m excited to play the Hong Kong Open for the first time,” said Stenson, the current world number 37. “It is hard to believe that I have not played this tournament before because I’ve always heard great things about the golf course, the city and the fans. It’s nice to kick-off my 2020 Race to Dubai season with something a little bit different.”
Rai claimed his maiden European Tour title after holding off Matthew Fitzpatrick to secure a one-shot victory during a thrilling final-round battle last year. The Englishman is hoping for another special week in Hong Kong when he defends a title on the European circuit for the first time.
“Winning last year was incredible for me. The course is amazing, the city is great, and the crowds showed me some great support throughout the week. I will always have wonderful memories from this event and cannot wait to be back,” said Rai.
Dr YK Pang, Chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), said: “The Hong Kong Open is one of the highlights on Hong Kong’s events calendar. Each year, elite golfers from around the world gather in Hong Kong to compete for the historic Hong Kong Open title.
“Golfers and fans from overseas not only get four days of world-class competitive play during their stay in Hong Kong, they also get to experience the diverse tourism offerings in Asia’s world city.
“With centuries of history and a rich living culture on display, Hong Kong showcases exciting sports events that appeal to visitors of all interests, and a wealth of unique and authentic experiences for them to appreciate.”
Kenneth Lam, President of the Hong Kong Golf Association, said: “We are thrilled that Aaron Rai will return to Hong Kong to defend his Open title and that he will be joined by Henrik Stenson for his debut at this historic event.
“We very much look forward to welcoming enthusiastic crowds to the Hong Kong Open this year and hope that our ‘Free Thursday and Friday’ ticket initiative can continue to inspire a new generation of golfers in Hong Kong.
“Having the chance to watch great champions like Stenson and Rai in action, free of charge, is a rare opportunity and we hope the public continue take advantage of this great initiative.”