Five of the world’s best golfers hung Chinese lanterns to illuminate the spectacular Shanghai skyline to launch the tenth anniversary celebrations of theWGC-HSBC Champions - a tournament that transformed the face of world golf.
Major champions Bubba Watson (Masters) and Martin Kaymer (US Open) were joined by World No 2 Adam Scott, World No 6 Justin Rose and World No 10 Rickie Fowler for the rooftop ceremony where they accepted the traditional lanterns from five young golfers from the HSBC China Junior Golf Program. The quintet also donned traditional Chinese jackets at the event at The Peninsula Hotel on The Bund, Shanghai’s historic riverfront.
This year’s tournament, which takes place at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai from November 6-9, represents a landmark moment for golf in Asia. When HSBC first brought the event to China in 2005, just 13 of the world’s Top 50 players lined up; this year, for the second year running, 40 of the world’s Top 50 will tee off for the $8.5 million showpiece.
Australian World No 2 Adam Scott said: “The HSBC Champions is a first class event that always attracts the very best players from all over the world. The first ten years of the HSBC Champions have been incredibly successful and I am sure the next ten and beyond will be even better!”
Twenty-five-year-old American star Rickie Fowler – who has finished in the top five at all four Majors this year – added: “This is the place to be. For the modern golfer and the modern game China is here to stay and this tournament has acted as a beacon to the very best players around the world. We love to play here and the support from the fans in Shanghai is something really special too. To win this tournament in its tenth year really would be an achievement.”
The players were joined by Peter Wong, Chief Executive Asia Pacific, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited and Giles Morgan, Global Head of Sponsorship & Events, HSBC Holdings plc.
Mr Morgan said: “Ten years on and it feels like China’s incredible golfing journey has reached a landmark destination. When we first brought this tournament to China in 2005 our ambition was to create a world class international golf tournament in an emerging market and a decade later it’s clear that HSBC Champions has acted as a major catalyst for the growth of golf in Asia.
“The fact that for the second year running we have attracted forty of the world’s top fifty players to Shanghai says it all. It’s a great way to celebrate ten years and we’re excited about the future of golf in China starting with another world class tournament this week.”
The star-studded field also includes World No 4 Sergio Garcia, World No 5 Henrik Stenson, FedEx Cup winner Billy Horschel, three time 2014 PGA Tour winner Jimmy Walker, Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama, two-time 2014 PGA Tour winner Chris Kirk, US Ryder Cup star Jordan Spieth and European Ryder Cup heroes Graeme McDowell and Jamie Donaldson.
The tournament boasts the toughest qualification criteria of all the World Golf Championships, with the majority of the field qualifying only by winning a key tournament on their Tours or by being ranked in the world’s top 50.