Olympic champ Rose to defend Hong Kong Open title

Hong Kong, Aug 31 (IANS) Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose will defend his UBS Hong Kong Open golf title, while Masters champion Danny Willett will also vie for the honours at the Hong Kong Golf Club from December 8-11, it was announced on Wednesday.

At the official launch of the UBS Hong Kong Open, the organisers announced that Rose and Willett would headline at Fanling, and outlined a series of community-targeted initiatives that will feature in the 2016 tournament.

Rose and Willett created their own golfing history this year, with Willett charging to glory at the Masters at Augusta National before his Britain partner Rose won a titanic battle in Rio to become the first man to win an Olympic gold for golf in 112 years.

The Englishman won the UBS Hong Kong Open last year after a thrilling tussle with Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard and is looking forward to reacquainting himself with the Hong Kong Golf Club.

Rose said: “Winning at Fanling last year was great so I am really looking forward to defending my title. It’s a special venue and Hong Kong is an incredible city and one we all love to return to.

“The memories from winning last year are all good. Lucas and I kind of moved away from everyone else and had a good battle in the final round, which thankfully I came out on top of,” he added.

“One thing we want the Olympics to do is help grow the game of golf, and I think any initiative that encourages more people to come along to a tournament and engage with our sport and us as players is a great thing.

“So I hope a lot of people take advantage of the free ticket offer this year and we will have a lot of people at the UBS Hong Kong Open to see guys like Danny and myself put on a show.”

Willett became the first European to win the Masters since José Maria Olazábal in 1999 with an unforgettable final-round performance which included back-nine birdies on Augusta’s 13th, 14th and 16th holes as he overtook Jordan Spieth to burst into the Major championship winner’s circle. In 2011, when he last played in the UBS Hong Kong Open, the Englishman finished 21st.

He said: “I have some good memories of the course and the tournament in Hong Kong so I am looking forward to getting back there and trying to get my hands on the trophy.

“Winning the Masters was obviously a huge moment for me and my career, but I am looking forward for the rest of the year to try and add more trophies to the Green Jacket and the UBS Hong Kong Open is a great opportunity for me.”

–IANS

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