Malaysia’s Gavin Green will have another chance to extend his lead atop the Asian Tour Order of Merit when he makes his debut at the UBS Hong Kong Open.
Green is on course to become the first Malaysian to lift the prestigious merit crown and with five events left on the 2017 Asian Tour Schedule, he knows what is at stake at the US$2 million event.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who narrowly lost out by one shot at the European Tour’s season-ending event in Dubai last week, is looking forward to another shot at redemption at the UBS Hong Kong Open which is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
The 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion has three top-10s which included two runner-up finishes in the last five events he played in and is one of the likely contenders among the star-studded field that features Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia.
Australia’s Scott Hend, a nine-time Asian Tour winner, is meanwhile seeking his first win for 2017. Unlike the 2016 season which saw him win twice and become the first Australian to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit title, Hend has only one runner-up result in Switzerland to show for this year.
A return to the Hong Kong Golf Club where he won the UBS Hong Kong Open in 2014 will hopefully rejuvenate his form and allow him to battle his way into contention again.
Did you know?
- Gavin Green is playing in Hong Kong competitively for the first time in his career.
- Green won the Mercuries Taiwan Masters for his first Asian Tour title earlier this month and his career breakthrough came two weeks after he had finished runner-up for the third time this season in Korea.
- Green was the first amateur to win on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) in 2014.
- The Malaysian finished second on the 2016 Asian Development Tour Order of Merit to earn his Asian Tour card for 2017. He also represented his country at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro alongside Danny Chia, a two-time Asian Tour winner, where he finished where he finished 47th.
- Kiradech Aphibarnrat narrowly missed out on his second win on European soil when he finished tied-second in Italy in October. He was again in contention in Dubai last week but was pipped to the title by Spain’s Jon Rahm by one shot.
- With his finish last week, Kiradech moved up to 60th place on the Official World Golf Ranking and is in the running to qualify for the EurAsia Cup where qualifying ends this week.
- Scott Hend won the Hong Kong Open in 2014 when he defeated Philippines’ Angelo Que at the first play-off hole with a par.
- Lin Wen-tang won the UBS Hong Kong Open in 2008 after defeating Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Italy’s Francesco Molinari at the second play-off hole.
- He is best remembered for his incredible recovery shot from what looked like an impossible position behind the trees at the first play-off hole on the 18th. He managed to hit the shot out to within four feet for a birdie.
Gavin Green (Mas)
It’s my first time here and first time on the course. It’s a pretty tight golf course and lots of irons will be used on the tee to get the ball in play. That’s for sure. This course will really punish you if you get the ball out of play. It’s a strong field with lots of experienced players, so it’s going to be a fun week. I’ve been playing against several strong players the last few weeks and the key for me now is to go out there and play my best golf. I’m looking to extend my Order of Merit lead but as you know, it’s not easy. Scott Hend has done well here, Lipsky has also done well here too. I’m just going to play solid golf this week and hopefully finish high.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha)
I’ve been knocking on the doors on the last couple of weeks already and most recently in Dubai last week. I just hope the door will be opened very soon. I just got to keep playing well and I’m looking forward to trying again this week. I have been improving and I was playing under pressure especially on the back-nine. And I think it’s all about trying to control myself better under pressure especially when playing against the top players. I’ve been hitting the ball much better and finding more of my shots landing on the fairways. This is an old-style course and it’s important to find the fairways here to give myself chances. I’m trying to get inside the top-50 on the world rankings again. I want to get into the EurAsia Cup team too and play in the Masters tournament again.
Lin Wen-tang (Tpe)
It has been such a long time since I won here in 2008. I consider this my lucky hunting ground as I feel really comfortable and at home here. People still remember me and have been asking me how I played that shot out from the trees that year. I said the trees have grown taller and it’s different. There have been many changes since my win here but one thing that has not changed is the fans’ support and recognition of my win.
Scott Hend (Aus)
The atmosphere here every year is fantastic and it’s good to be back. Obviously I like to win here again and for that matter any other events that I’m in. But my game’s not good enough at the moment and I’m working to get that back to where it was by sharpening every aspect of it. Golf’s a funny game. I’m a little disappointed I haven’t won anything yet this year. It’s tough to back up a year like last year where I played quite nicely to win the Order of Merit. It’s always hard to come back and keep the momentum going. There’s still a couple of events left and we’ll see how it goes. Shooting 63 at Bridgestone was definitely one of the highlights of the year for me. And that 65 at The Open Championship was also a pretty nice highlight of 2017 for me.