Thursday, October 15, 2009

Woods and Mickelson in Shanghai Showdown

Tiger Woods will aim to continue his remarkable record in the World Golf Championships arena when he and World Number Two Phil Mickelson headline an impressive American challenge for the WGC – HSBC Champions at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai from November 6-9. The World Number One has enjoyed a decade of dominance in WGC events, claiming an astonishing 16 individual WGC titles in total. His first triumph came in the WGC – NEC Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Ohio in August 1999, while his most recent success came a mere two months ago at the same venue in the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational.While next month sees the HSBC Champions elevated to a WGC event for the first time, it is a tournament Woods has not won in the past. Therefore, the chance to put that particular statistic right, while at the same time extending his own WGC record, is a challenge he admitted he will relish. “I played in the HSBC Champions in 2005 and 2006 and I look forward to returning to Shanghai in November,” he said. “It is an event that symbolises the amazing progress of golf in Asia and its new WGC status underlines how firmly China has established its place on the global golf calendar.” One man, however, who knows exactly what it takes to win the HSBC Champions is Phil Mickelson, who did just that in November 2007 when he emerged triumphant from a thrilling play-off at Sheshan against Englishmen Ross Fisher and Lee Westwood. The left-hander finished in a tie for eighth place in the last HSBC Champions in November 2008 but has already experienced success in the WGC arena this year, bravely overcoming a spell of heat exhaustion and dehydration at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Florida in March, to hold off the challenge of fellow American Nick Watney on the final day to win the WGC – CA Championship. “After The Open Championship, it is hard to think of a bigger and better tournament held outside America,” he said. “This tournament already had everything in place and deserves to be part of the WGC series. It has always attracted strong fields and so has a great reputation worldwide and I am really looking forward to trying to reclaim my title.” Watney, along with fellow US PGA Tour winners in 2009 – Brian Gay, Jerry Kelly and Sean O’Hair – will make the trip to Shanghai as will Stewart Cink, who memorably pipped Tom Watson for The Open at Turnberry in July. “I am really excited to be going to China for the first time,” said Cink, who already has a WGC title in his locker in the shape of the 2004 WGC – NEC (now Bridgestone) Invitational. “Anywhere the best players in the world are gathered together, you don’t want to miss out and I think it’s fantastic for world golf that China will be hosting the WGC – HSBC Champions.” The WGC – HSBC Champions will feature an increased prize fund of US$7 million and will bring together tournament winners from all over the globe as well as the best players from the International Federation of PGA Tours. Not surprisingly, Tiger Woods’ haul of 16 WGC individual titles is a record, those 16 victories coming in just 30 starts. Seven wins have come in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (formerly the WGC-NEC Invitational), six have come in the WGC-CA Championship (formerly the WGC-American Express Championship) and three have come in the WGC-Accenture Match Play. Phil Mickelson’s victory in the HSBC Champions in November 2007 was his first title success outside of the United States since he won the 1993 Tournoi Perrier Paris on the European Challenge Tour.

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