Bubble boys face do-or-die-week #UBSHKOpen

Tue 06 Dec 2016

Bubble boys face do-or-die-week #UBSHKOpen

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Hong Kong, December 6: For golf’s bubble boys, the season-ending UBS Hong Kong Open this week is do-or-die.

Finishing in the top-60 of the final Asian Tour’s Order of Merit on Sunday will mean another opportunity to shoot for millions in prize pots across the region next year. If you don’t, it could mean a return to the dreaded Qualifying School in Thailand or limited tournament starts.

Spaniard Javi Colomo, currently 61st on the rankings, is amongst those facing the pressure of finishing within the top-60 for the first time since making his debut in Asia in 2012.

“As it’s the last tournament, I’m playing for my Tour card. I need to play well. Christmas time is coming, that’s why I hope to play well and I’ll be happy,” said the 32-year-old Spaniard.

A new coach and some swing changes have worked against Colomo this season, with only one top-10 to his name. But returning to the venerable Hong Kong Golf Club is giving him some positive vibes as he finished tied fifth here in 2013.

“I’m always happy to be in Hong Kong. It’s one of my favourite weeks. I like challenging courses and this is one of them. You need to play 100 per cent if you want to beat the course. I normally play well in the last part of the year and this is always held towards the end of the year. I’m looking forward to finish the year strongly,” he said.

“I’ve struggled all year with the long game. I changed my coach, and I worked so hard with the swing but things didn’t happen. It’s golf. I’m putting so well, my short game is sometimes unreal but from the tee, I’ve found too many problems. That’s why I’ve not been playing for a win in tournaments.”

With his wife Kristina and eight-month-old baby girl Lola, who is visiting Asia for the first time, in tow, the slightly built Colomo hopes they will bring him good luck.

“It’s fantastic to have them here. It’s the first time, it’s a little bit tough. We didn’t know how to do it in regards to the plane ride over here but she was very nice which we were very surprised. She almost didn’t cry and slept almost throughout. I have to play well for her, my wife and also my parents in law. There’s a lot of support this week. Nothing wrong can happen,” said Colomo.

Himmat Rai of India Himmat Rai of India

Last season, India’s Himmat Rai finished joint runner-up in one of the late tournaments of the year to seal his card. Ranked 75th on the merit list now, Rai knows of the huge task ahead and hopes he can finally deliver on a week where his fate is delicately poised.

“I’ve been out there all year and been playing well in patches. Hopefully I can stick to my game plan this week and focus on one shot at a time. That’s what it’s about.

“I made a lot of cuts this year but I just didn’t get that top finish. There wasn’t that big finish which you need to have on the Tour with the level of competition that we have these days. I did that a couple of times last year but the season is not over yet.

A return to the Hong Kong Golf Club could just be the right antidote for Rai as he seeks to turn his season around with a good result at the UBS Hong Kong Open.

“As soon as I walk in here, I just feel comfortable. There’re certain courses around the region in the year where it just happens.

“We still have four days of competition to go. I’ve had a good year in terms of preparation and we’ll see what happens this week,” said Rai.

Australia’s Adam Groom is meanwhile hoping to make a massive jump up the merit standing where he is currently in 107th place.

“It’s the last event of the year. Obviously, I’ve played poorly this year so I’ll just try to enjoy the event and not get worried about what happens.

“Funny things have happened though. It’s been a grind this year, I had a shoulder injury and missed a few events at the start of the season. Then, my old man was also sick and my golf hasn’t really been a priority,” said Groom.

Personal setbacks and injury woes may have curtailed Groom’s progress on the Asian Tour this season but he prefers to look on the brighter side of life as his season comes to a close.

Adam Groom of Australia Adam Groom of Australia

“I’ve played well here in the past. I love it. I was pretty lucky to get into the event as I was sixth reserve a week ago and I ended up getting in. My brother is caddying for me and my wife and parents are also coming up which should be fun. I’ve got a full entourage,” said the Australian.

Entry to the first two rounds of this year's tournament on Thursday 8 and Friday 9 December will be free of charge. Those aged under 21 will be admitted free of charge for all four days of the tournament, as the organisers push to introduce the game to wider segments of the Hong Kong community in 2016.

Following the success of the inaugural event last year, the UBS Hong Kong Open Charity Cup will return on 14 December with local singer and artist, Alan Tam, as Official Ambassador. The HK$2.3 million was raised in 2015 for three local charities, making it the most successful fundraising initiative for the entire European Tour season.

About UBS Group AG

UBS provides financial advice and solutions to wealthy, institutional and corporate clients worldwide, as well as private clients in Switzerland. The operational structure of the Group is comprised of our Corporate Center and five business divisions: Wealth Management, Wealth Management Americas, Personal & Corporate Banking, Asset Management and the Investment Bank. UBS's strategy builds on the strengths of all of its businesses and focuses its efforts on areas in which it excels, while seeking to capitalize on the compelling growth prospects in the businesses and regions in which it operates, in order to generate attractive and sustainable returns for its shareholders. All of its businesses are capital-efficient and benefit from a strong competitive position in their targeted markets.

UBS is present in all major financial centers worldwide. It has offices in 54 countries, with about 34% of its employees working in the Americas, 35% in Switzerland, 18% in the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa and 13% in Asia Pacific. UBS Group AG employs approximately 60,000 people around the world. Its shares are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

www.ubs.com

About Mega Events Fund

This year the “UBS Hong Kong Open” is sponsored by the Mega Events Fund of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. The Fund was set up in 2009 to support mega arts, cultural, sports and entertainment events to be staged in Hong Kong. With the approval from the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council, the operation of the Fund has been extended for five years until the end of March 2017 with a view to attracting more internationally acclaimed mega events to Hong Kong and reinforcing Hong Kong’s position as the events capital of Asia.

 

About the Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), FENIX XCell (Official Apparel Supplier), Hilton Worldwide (Official Hotel Partner), Titleist (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Sponsor), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official Business Publication Sponsor) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). Sentosa, Singapore is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.

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www.asiantour.com

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bout The European Tour

The European Tour celebrates men’s professional golf on a global stage. In 2016, the European Tour International Schedule features 47 tournaments in 27 countries, all part of the Race to Dubai, the year-long competition which crowns the European Tour Number One at the end of the season, a title claimed in 2015 by Rory McIlroy for the third time.

Since its formation in 1972, the European Tour has witnessed 25 Members celebrate a total of 51 Major Championship titles between them, enjoyed ten Members attaining the pinnacle of World Number One and has celebrated its diversity as players from 36 different countries have won on Tour. The European Tour also manages the Challenge Tour, which features 28 tournaments in 22 countries in 2016, and the Senior Tour, which features 13 tournaments in nine countries in 2016. It is also the Managing Partner of Ryder Cup Europe, the body which, alongside the PGA of America, administers golf’s greatest team contest, The Ryder Cup. The European Tour broadcasts live coverage of its tournaments to over 490 million homes in more than 150 countries every week, generating in excess of 2200 global broadcast hours for each event. It also enjoys the support of many of the world’s leading business brands with Rolex, BMW, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Emirates and Titleist as Official Partners.