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McIlroy to Defend Hong Kong Open Title

Golf - Hong Kong Open

By David Bryceson
Epoch Times Staff
Created: November 13, 2012 Last Updated: November 13, 2012
Related articles: Sports » Golf
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Rory McIlroy on his way to winning the 2011 Hong Kong Open. The world No. 1 is back to defend his title from Nov 15 to 18. (Bill Cox/The EpochTimes)

Rory McIlroy on his way to winning the 2011 Hong Kong Open. The world No. 1 is back to defend his title from Nov 15 to 18. (Bill Cox/The EpochTimes)

Rory McIlroy won’t be holding back at the USB Hong Kong Open that begins on Thursday Nov 15 at Hong Kong Golf Club, Fanling, Hong Kong.

“I’ve still got two events remaining this year and the goal is still to try and win at least once more before the end of the year,” said McIlroy on pgatour.com.

The world’s No. 1 ranked player won the European and US Tour money lists this season when he came from behind to finish third in Singapore recently.

Only one other player has ever won the European Tour Order of Merit and its equivalent of the PGA Tour money list – England’s Luke Donald made the double last season. At 23, McIlroy, became the youngest European Order of Merit winner since Sandy Lyle in 1980.

“It really is hugely satisfying to finally become the European No. 1, especially after finishing second two of the last three years,” said McIlroy.

“It has always been one of my goals to become No. 1 in Europe ever since securing my tour card five years ago, but then to also end the year as both European and PGA Tour No. 1 is just amazing.

“I feel so proud and humbled to join so many fabulous names in Europe who have won the Order of Merit,” said McIlroy who feels he still has room for improvement.

While he was still in Singapore and before leaving for Hong Kong, McIlroy spoke of his development this year.

“I’ve got more shots; I’m more experienced, a bit more consistent,” he said in a Business Day report.

“[I’ll] keep working on different aspects of the game and keep adding a shot here and there in terms of different shots,” McIlroy said.

“I feel like I’ve got a lot more comfortable hitting the ball left to right this year, which has made a huge difference to the right-hand pin positions, and just keep trying to improve on any little thing you can.

“It’s been nice that year after year my results have improved and I would like to keep that going. But if I feel like I’m a better golfer next year than I am this year and so on, that’s how I want to feel.”

McIlroy’s most-recent distinction came on Tuesday Nov 12 when he was nominated for the PGA Tour Player of the Year alongside Jason Dufner, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson and Tiger Woods. McIlroy is the front-runner to win the prestigious award that will be announced in December.

The Northern Irishman’s next challenge will be to defend last year’s Hong Kong Open title against six fellow Major Champions: New Zealand’s Michael Campbell, American John Daly, Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, Spain’s José María Olazábal and Korean Y E Yang.

Aside from McIlroy, eight other former winners of the Hong Kong Open will also be teeing off: Grégory Bourdy, Simon Dyson, Harrington, Miguel Angel Jiménez, José Manuel Lara, Colin Montgomerie, Olazábal and Lin Wen-tang.

Other notable names in the line-up include 4-time US PGA Tour winner Matt Kuchar of America, who is making his UBS Hong Kong debut, and in-form Englishman Paul Casey, whose last three appearances have yielded top 10 finishes in the Barclays Singapore Open (tied 10th), the BMW Masters (tied sixth) and the ISPS Handa Perth International (tied fifth).

Ahead of his Open title defence, McIlroy—who also was runner-up in 2008, 2009 and sixth in 2010—held a press conference on Tuesday Nov 13 with Kuchar, Harrington, Lawrie and YE Yang at The Peak Tower in Hong Kong.

“Hong Kong has always been a place I’ve enjoyed coming to,” said McIlroy, according to the organisers’ website. 

“It’s always got a great buzz, a great atmosphere and there is just something about Fanling and the Hong Kong Golf Club that I really enjoy.

“This week will be extra special after wrapping up the Race to Dubai last week in Singapore and I can’t wait to tee up as the defending champion this week,” concluded McIlroy.

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