UBS Hong Kong Open Preview

Hong Kong is the venue for the final European Tour event before the Dubai World Championship. A host of top names are on the start sheet at Fanling this week for the UBS Hong Kong Open.

Gregory Bourdy defends

Lowdown: Hong Kong is the venue for the final European Tour event before the Dubai World Championship. A host of top names are on the start sheet at Fanling this week for the UBS Hong Kong Open.

The tournament will provide a last chance for players to make it into the top-60 in the Race to Dubai and, thereby, earn a start at next week's Dubai World Championship.

Last year, Gregory Bourdy of France went into the Hong Kong Open lying 86th on the money list. But his two-shot victory over Rory McIlroy propelled him to 47th on the standings and so secured him a place in Dubai. On the flipside, Stephen Dodd of Wales missed the cut in last year's tournament and dropped from 59th to 62nd. So, there will be plenty of excitement, not just surrounding the battle for victory at Fanling.

Denmark's Soren Hansen currently occupies 60th place in the Race to Dubai. His aim this week will be to try and secure his spot in Dubai. But his two closest pursuers - James Morrison and Shane Lowry - are also in the field and they'll be striving to leapfrog the former Ryder Cup player.

At the very top of the Race to Dubai, Graeme McDowell will be looking to continue his excellent run of form. A good finish in this event would see him make further inroads into Martin Kaymer's lead. In fact, with the German taking a week off, McDowell could close the gap to just €70,000 if he were to take the €301,000 first prize

First held in 1959, the Hong Kong Open is Hong Kong's oldest professional sporting event. It's been won by some notable players over the years including Peter Thomson, Greg Norman, Tom Watson and Padraig Harrington. This will be the 52nd time the tournament has taken place.

Venue: Hong Kong GC, Fanling, Hong Kong Date: Nov 18-21 Course stats: par 70, 6,700 yards Purse: €1,837,000 Winner: €301,446 Defending Champion: Gregory Bourdy (-19)

TV Coverage: Thursday 18 - Live on Sky Sports 3 from 5am Friday 19 - Live on Sky Sports 3 from 5am Saturday 20 - Live on Sky Sports 3 from 5am Sunday 21 - Live on Sky Sports 3 from 5am

Player Watch: Graeme McDowell - The Northern Irishman will have the bit between his teeth this week. He's been playing superbly of late and a win here would give him a very realistic chance of taking the 2010 Race to Dubai.

Rory McIlroy - Last year's runner-up has not enjoyed a brilliant second half of 2010 and he'll be looking to rectify that with a strong finish in this event around a course he clearly enjoys.

Anders Hansen - The Dane is a streak player and he hadn't had a great European Tour season until last week when he picked up a huge cheque for coming second in Singapore. Look for him to feed off that good result and post another strong finish here.

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.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?