This week sees the last event of the 2011 European Tour before next week’s season-ending Dubai World Championship. A strong field, including defending champion Ian Poulter, has gathered in Fanling to do battle for the UBS Hong Kong Open.
It’s a final chance for the European Tour’s golfers to play their way into the top-60 on the money list, thereby securing participation in the lucrative Dubai World Championship next week.
Peter Lawrie is the man sitting precariously in 60th spot. The Irishman will be hoping for a strong week to solidify his place in Dubai. Of those just outside the top-60, Stephen Gallacher currently 61st, Bernd Wiesberger in 65th and Padraig Harrington in 67th will be aiming to climb the ranking here.
The Irishman has not won a European Tour event since the USPGA Championship of 2008 but he has won the Hong Kong Open title in the past – back in 2004.
This will be the 53rd edition of the Hong Kong Open and it’s been part of the European Tour schedule since 2002. Since the tournament was first contested in 1959 there have been a number of notable winners including Peter Thomson, Greg Norman, Tom Watson and, more recently, Colin Montgomerie and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
There’ll be another battle to watch out for this week – the one to retain European Tour playing privileges for 2012. It’s a last chance for players to secure their card for next year. Of those just outside automatic qualification on the ranking: Keith Horne of South Africa, Northern Ireland’s Gareth Maybin and India’s Shiv Kapur all tee it up this week.
Last season it was England’s Ian Poulter who secured the title in Fanling. He picked up his 10th European Tour win with a one-stroke victory over fellow Englishman Simon Dyson and Italian sensation Matteo Manassero.

Venue: Hong Kong GC, Fanling, Hong Kong
Date: Dec 1-4
Course stats: par 70, 6,700 yards
Purse: €2,060,000 Winner: €341,723
Defending Champion: Ian Poulter (-22)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 1 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 5am
Friday 2 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 5am
Saturday 3 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 5am
Sunday 4 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 5am

Player Watch:
Rory McIlroy – Since the USPGA Championship, McIlroy has played four times on the European Tour. He’s been fourth, third twice and second: pretty impressive stuff. He was sixth in this event last year and second the year before.

Justin Rose – The Englishman was seventh in the WGC HSBC Champions and ninth in the Barclays Singapore Open. Together with Ian Poulter, he played some superb golf to finish tied second in the Omega Mission Hills World Cup. He’ll be looking to continue that form this week.

Miguel Angel Jimenez – The veteran Spaniard is a former winner of this event and the course should suit his game. It’s a layout where strategy and accuracy is key. Look for Jimenez to feature.

Key hole: 18th. At 410 yards, it might not look overly imposing on the card but, with water, trees, heavy bunkering plus a famously elusive green, par here is an excellent score.

Skills required:
Course management. This is a layout that demands accuracy and a strategic approach. It’s an old-school track where the ability to hit the long-ball is not a prerequisite. It’s a course that requires good shot-making and a tidy short game.

Where next?
Chevron World Challenge:
Nedbank Golf Challenge: Preview