Rickie Fowler has confirmed his return to Scotland, the Home of Golf, as he bids to secure a second Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open title at The Renaissance Club on July 11-14, 2019.
Fowler is the latest American star to confirm his attendance at the third Rolex Series event on the 2019 Race to Dubai, with 2017 US PGA Champion Justin Thomas and fellow Ryder Cup player Matt Kuchar joining European Major winners Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson in the world-class field.
The 2015 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open champion will be looking to reproduce the stellar form which saw him claim the title just a few miles down the East Lothian coastline at Gullane Golf Club, where he memorably birdied three of the final four holes on Sunday to see off compatriot Kuchar by a single shot.
Fowler has enjoyed a phenomenal run since his debut at the tournament in 2014, securing top ten finishes in all four of his appearances in the event.
He has already tasted victory on the US PGA Tour in 2019, capturing his ninth career win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in March. With the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open taking its traditional spot in the week before The Open Championship he will be hoping that a strong performance at The Renaissance Club can translate into his first Major title at Royal Portrush Golf Club.
Fowler said: ‘’I’m looking forward to returning to Scotland for the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open. I have great memories from this tournament, particularly of my win at Gullane in 2015, and with fantastic courses and knowledgeable fans, I’m always excited to play.
“It’s a fun week but it gives the tournament extra edge to have The Open the following week. I know that a lot of players have won The Open after playing in Scotland so it’s good preparation as well as being a great week of competition in itself.”
The tournament will be played for the first time at The Renaissance Club – which was founded in 2008 and nestles on 300 picturesque acres along the Firth of Forth – when it takes its place as the third event in the 2019 Rolex Series, the premium category of tournaments on the Race to Dubai, each with a minimum prize fund of US$7million.
It will once again be followed by the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open, which will be played over the same course, from August 8-11, 2019.
Also teeing it up on the world-famous stretch of East Lothian coastline known as Scotland’s Golf Coast in July are defending Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open champion Brandon Stone of South Africa, and his fellow Rolex Series winners – local favourite Russell Knox and former World Number One Lee Westwood. The field also includes American stars Kevin Kisner and Jimmy Walker, former winners Rafa Cabrera Bello and Martin Kaymer, Ryder Cup stalwart Ian Poulter and his fellow Englishman Matt Wallace and home-grown talent Stephen Gallacher and Robert MacIntyre.
The Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open is the perfect day out for all the family, with fantastic food and drink outlets in the championship village as well as retail experiences and entertainment for all ages.
Fans can buy tickets to see some of the world’s best golfers – including official Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open hospitality packages – at www.asiscottishopen.com
European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn and Solheim Cup Captain Catriona Matthew will join forces in a world first for professional golf when the innovative GolfSixes returns to the European Tour schedule in May.
The Dane and the Scot will be the first male and female professionals to play together in a competitive match play format when they form the ‘Captains Team’ in the second staging of the tournament at the Centurion Club in St Albans, England, from May 5-6, 2018.
The ‘Captains Team’ is one of four exciting wild card selections introduced to this year’s event, with two of the other three being; an ‘England Women’s Team’ comprising Georgia Hall and Charley Hull; and a ‘European Women’s Team’ featuring England’s Mel Reid and Suzann Pettersen of Norway, all of whom will join defending champions Denmark, represented again by last year’s winners Lucas Bjerregaard and Thorbjørn Olesen.
The fourth and final wild card team will be revealed towards the end of next month alongside the 11 men’s national teams who will qualify automatically from the European Tour’s Category Ranking List. All 16 teams will compete for a total prize fund of €1 million with the eventual winners receiving €100,000 each.
It is appropriate that the current Ryder Cup Captain is at the forefront of the latest innovation from the European Tour as the Wednesday of The 2018 Ryder Cup week at Le Golf National will also feature a showcase GolfSixes event, played between the members of the respective Junior Ryder Cup teams.
Thomas Bjørn said: “I am really excited about playing GolfSixes. There are so many 72-hole tournaments around the world that there has to be room for something else which puts a different spin on golf and brings more interest.
“This is not your normal golf tournament where everyone is very serious and has their heads down. This is completely different, it’s more about having fun and portraying the game in a good way.
“I think it’s hugely important to also try and break down the barriers that have existed in golf between the men’s and women’s games. When this opportunity arose to play as Ryder Cup Captain, I thought it was only right to speak to Catriona as the Solheim Cup Captain about forming a team, and we’re both really looking forward to it.
“It also sends the right message to our players too, that we’re European Captains and being a European Captain of any team is not just about your own Tour and your own players – it’s about representing everything about this great continent of ours.”
Catriona Matthew said: “I was delighted when Thomas asked me to play GolfSixes. I had to move my schedule around a little bit but the moment I heard about the chance to play, I definitely wanted to be part of it.
“The fact it is something different for golf is great – in terms of the round robin match play format then head to head matches, in addition to the men and women playing together of course. All Tours are trying to think of ways to make golf different and encourage a new and younger audience and so I think this whole concept is very exciting.
“I was playing in a tournament last year but I watched some of the inaugural GolfSixes on the television and read a bit about it and I always thought it was a good idea. Obviously, the matches are much quicker and match play itself tends to be exciting so it’s a good mix.”
Georgia Hall said: “It sounds like a great event and it will be nice to play in a team event and also to play with Charley again – I think we will have a good chance. I watched it on TV last year and it looked like a lot of fun so it’s great that we will be part of it this year.”
Charley Hull said: “I think an event like GolfSixes is good for the game of golf. I’m looking forward to teaming up with Georgia and seeing us play against the men will be exciting and something new for the spectators. Hopefully it will be a lot of fun for them to watch.”
Lucas Bjerregaard said: “Thorbjørn and I are very much looking forward to going back to the Centurion Club to defend our title. We had a blast last year, as most people did who attended the event either as players or fans, so I’m looking forward to getting back there.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many kids at a golf tournament in my life which is great for the game. In addition to that, they were having a great time, running around and not being told to be quiet all the time which is exactly what we need to get more young people involved in our sport.”
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “GolfSixes is something that we championed last year to do something a little different, not just in terms of a different format, but also to bring a different form of entertainment from a golf perspective.
“There was a lot of talk about what we were going to do differently this year while remaining credible but entertaining, and today’s announcement is the result of those discussions. It’s a natural progression and I think the potential for GolfSixes in terms of the overall brand and format is terrific.
“The concept of Thomas and Catriona playing together is a wonderful idea and then to be able to add in four of Europe’s leading women players in Georgia, Charley, Mel and Suzann is fantastic and will make for a great event. We thank both the LET and the LPGA for helping make this happen.”
As part of the festival feel to GolfSixes, the Centurion Club will once again this year feature an array of entertainment for spectators to enjoy outside the ropes in the centrally-located Fan Zone. Amphitheatre-style stands around tees and greens, music and pyrotechnics on the first tee and player engagement across the course will also bring fans closer to the action.
Data from the inaugural GolfSixes tournament last year showed a 42% increase in new golf fans at the event compared to regular European Tour events. Those attendees were also 14% younger than those seen during the rest of the golfing calendar.
By virtue of attracting a younger following, social media engagement around the event also exceeded the average rate seen at other European Tour tournaments by 24%, delivering more than 20 million social impressions.
Early Bird tickets for GolfSixes 2018, priced at just £10 for adults and £4 for children – with under 10s gaining free admission – are available https://www.eventbrite.com/e/golfsixes-2018-tickets-42313642243?aff=WildcardsAnnounce until Friday March 23. After that, tickets are priced at £16 for adults and £6 for children.
Tournament: UBS Hong Kong Open – Race to Dubai: Tournament 1 of 46 events
Venue: Hong Kong Golf Club – Prize fund: US$2 million – Hashtag: #UBSHKOpen
Just four days after the 2017 Race to Dubai came down to the final shots of the season, champion Tommy Fleetwood returns to the place where the “greatest achievement of my career so far” at the UBS Hong Kong Open.
When Fleetwood teed it up at Hong Kong Golf Club 12 months ago, little could he have known that his tie for third in his first appearance at the event would help lay the foundations to make him Europe’s Number One.
A win at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship next time out would move him to the top of the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, a position he would hold for the majority of the rest of the campaign.
He was run close by fellow Englishman Justin Rose, who would have beaten him if he had made an eagle rather than a birdie on the final hole of the season at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
That provided one of the most dramatic finales in European Tour history and Fleetwood will now set out to make some more and become just the eighth man to go back-to-back as Europe’s Number One.
Olympic champion Rose, who won this event in 2015, is back at the Hong Kong Golf Club this week alongside debutant Sergio Garcia to headline an outstanding field who are all looking to topple Fleetwood in the new Race to Dubai
“New season – let’s go again,” he said. “I found it amazing that I started the season here last year, 12 months ago, and then you were watching the last shot be played in the Race to Dubai to decide what happened. I find it amazing when you have that much time and it all comes down to that.
“Even though it’s the new season we’re carrying on tournaments, this is the fifth week away now but we’ll keep working hard and keep doing the same things.
“When we do get chance to sit down, we’ll have a look at what was good in 2017, what could be improved on and we’ll make sure that we make those adjustments and then look at goal-setting as well.
“The last few weeks of last season it was all about trying to win the Race to Dubai and it’s impossible to take your mind off that. It could have gone either way at the end and it was really nice that it got completed and it’s something that I’ll have forever, now.
Hong Kong is always one of the most popular destinations on the European Tour International Schedule and Fanling has played host to this event in every staging since it joined the Tour as a co-sanctioned event with the Asian Tour and the Hong Kong Golf Association in the 2002 season.
Miguel Ángel Jiménez has been a four-time winner since then and Fleetwood believes you will not go too far wrong at Hong Kong Golf Club if you model your game on the charismatic Spaniard.
“You’re never going to overpower it,” Fleetwood continued. “You need to position your golf ball. There’s a few players that have done well here, I think Miguel is a perfect example – he’s dialled-in and he knows his game.
“You have to position it, you have to hit it well and you have to be sensible. You can’t push it. You just have to stay patient all the time and try and pick it off as you go along. You’ve to use all different aspects of your game.
“I really enjoyed this last year, obviously got my season off to a really good start, finished third, played really well, I absolutely loved the course and I think Hong Kong is a great city.”
Tournament: European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage, Venue: Lumine Golf Club, Tarragona, Spain
Round Five Report
Experience told on the fifth day of Qualifying School Final Stage as European Tour winners Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and Anders Hansen moved within touching distance of regaining their Race to Dubai status for next season.
Just 18 holes remain at Lumine Golf Club, with the top 25 and ties after tomorrow’s final round earning European Tour cards at the end of a gruelling six-round marathon in Tarragona.
Impressively leading the way is Sam Horsfield, the Englishman who has already come through First and Second Stage. By close of play tomorrow, he will have played a mammoth 252 holes and ended the day three shots clear on 19 under par after a fifth successive sub-70 round.
His nearest rival is Jeff Winther, who earned his card through Final Stage 12 months ago. The Dane’s seven under par 64 was the joint lowest round of the day and took him to 16 under par.
Four players trail Winther by one shot in a share of third place, including Connor Syme. The Scot shone again on Day Five with a four under par 67 and could crown an impressive start to his professional career by securing European Tour status tomorrow.
Matthew Baldwin, Kristoffer Broberg and Charlie Ford are alongside him while Hansen, three times a winner on the European Tour, is one shot further back in a share of seventh place following an excellent round of 65.
Fernandez-Castaño – who has Alvaro Quiros caddying for him this week – matched that score and sits in a tie for tenth on 13 under par, with exactly 25 players currently at 11 under par or better in Spain, but with much drama sure to come in tomorrow’s final round.
“Conditions were a little easier today – the wind wasn’t blowing as hard – but I also played very well. I hit the ball probably the best I have so far this week, and I gave myself a lot of birdie chances.
“Six under today was a phenomenal result and it takes a bit of the pressure off for tomorrow. Hopefully I can go super low tomorrow and make sure that I get my card back.
“I am feeling extremely relaxed. Last time I played at Q-School was in 2004 where it very much felt like a case or ‘all or nothing’.
“But now I have status somewhere else, on the Web.com Tour, and having that back-up plan has put me at ease a bit.
“I think that having Alvaro on the bag has made me feel good too. I remember Q-School as a really stressful experience from before, but I think we have managed our practice sessions really well – we didn’t too overdo it at the beginning of the week with our drills and routines.
“I am now excited about tomorrow and hopefully we can put another good round together.”
“It has been a great last three rounds. I didn’t quite play as well as I had over the last couple of days but that is what you have to expect at a six-round event.
“It was the first time that I have had a scorecard in my hands for five days in a row but I am delighted with the position I am in and hopefully I can continue playing well tomorrow.
“It is so difficult as there are so many good players this week and all you can control is yourself. I played really well at Second Stage last week so I felt confident coming into it.
“It is not in my hands though and I can’t control how anyone plays tomorrow. I need to keep doing what I am doing and that will be hopefully be enough tomorrow.
“It is going to be a very different experience tomorrow. This year I have had a lot of good experiences, playing in The Open and making a few appearances on the European Tour, but I think tomorrow is going to be a very different experience.
“If you get too much into a situation where you are overthinking everything then that can affect your game, so you just need to keep a clear head as that is when you play your best golf.”
“I feel fine. I’m not too worried about it. You always want to do well, there’s absolutely no doubt about that but for me it’s got more to do with personal reasons for me being here.
“I had an exemption this season but I haven’t really played, I just didn’t have time to play enough, too many other things going on, so towards the end I thought that if I wanted to play something next year, I’d better go to Q-School.
“My game is not too bad, for an old man like me! I’m just trying to be patient and take every day as it comes and go from there. Tomorrow I’m just going to play and see what happens – I’ve done it for 20 years so I know what I’m doing!”
“I’m feeling quite good but I’m not hitting the ball very well, I need to go and grind it on the range for a bit – I had nine putts on the back nine today and that’s what’s saved me today!
“I’ll try to draw on last year a little bit but I’m feeling quite loose about it. We’re all here every week, I’ve been on the European Tour for the last two years and a lot of the guys here are the same as every week so it doesn’t feel that different.
“It’s nice to be in a good position going into the final round but I still need to put a good score together tomorrow and not do anything stupid.
“I’ve been playing really well this year but it’s tough when you don’t get into the big events. I think I’ve only missed three or four cuts all season but you just need the last putt to drop in to get those really high finishes, and that hasn’t quite come to me this year.”
Scores after Round Five:
338 S Horsfield (Eng) 69 68 66 68 67;
341 J Winther (Den) 67 67 72 71 64;
342 K Broberg (Swe) 70 71 67 68 66; M Baldwin (Eng) 71 69 68 68 66; C Syme (Sco) 72 73 63 67 67; C Ford (Eng) 73 69 66 64 70;
343 A Hansen (Den) 71 71 69 67 65; L Canter (Eng) 71 64 67 75 66; C Blomstrand (Swe) 72 69 67 66 69;
344 G Fernandez – Castaño (Esp) 72 70 69 68 65; P Widegren (Swe) 69 72 68 69 66; M Foster (Eng) 67 72 68 71 66; A Pavan (Ita) 65 68 71 73 67;
Masters champion Sergio Garcia will make his first appearance at the UBS Hong Kong Open from November 23-26 in the opening event in the European Tour’s 2018 Race to Dubai.
The UBS Hong Kong Open is also one of the last few events remaining on the 2017 Asian Tour season and will play an important role in shaping the race for the prestigious Order of Merit crown.
Garcia made his Major-winning breakthrough in April this year when he defeated Justin Rose in a play-off at Augusta National to win the coveted Green Jacket. Garcia began his attempt to secure one of the most treasured prizes in golf 18 years ago which was finally achieved after 74 attempts.
A 13-time European Tour winner, the 37-year-old has also played a pivotal role in helping team Europe to six Ryder Cup victories between 1999 and 2017, one of which when he was vice-captain at Celtic Manor in 2010, is delighted to be making his debut in the UBS Hong Kong Open.
The Spaniard was the first person to applaud the tournament’s policy of free entry for all spectators on Thursday 23 and Friday 24 November.
“I have to say it’s a great idea to give free entry to the tournament for the first two days,” said Garcia. “We want to grow the game and introduce new people to golf so hopefully we can put on a great show for the fans and inspire some new golfers to take up the game.
“I know from speaking to a lot of players on Tour that the UBS Hong Kong Open is a great tournament and I can’t wait to play the Hong Kong Golf Club. I hear the course is a brilliant lay-out that requires a lot of shot-making and imagination which should suit me a lot if I can play well.”
With entry to the tournament on free of charge for the first two days, tournament organisers are hoping to break last year’s record crowd of 46,000 spectators at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling for the city’s longest-running sporting event, which is co-sanctioned between the European and Asian Tours as well as the Hong Kong Golf Association.
Australian Sam Brazel will defend his title against Garcia and a host of other star names which will be announced over the coming weeks.
Ms Amy Lo, Head of UBS Wealth Management Greater China and Country Head of UBS Hong Kong said: “UBS is delighted to once again extend its support to the UBS Hong Kong Open in 2017.
“We are also excited to welcome Sergio Garcia for the first time. He is the latest in the long list of world-class players to participate in this prestigious tournament over the past 59 years.
“I am confident that his appearance will boost public interest in the tournament.”
Dr Peter Lam, Chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), said: “We’re excited to see many of the world’s best golfers in action in Hong Kong again for the UBS Hong Kong Open, one of the world’s best-known international golf events. The HKTB has long been promoting Hong Kong’s diverse travel experiences, including sports and outdoors activities, to showcase the city’s vibrancy and dynamic appeal. With the strong line-up this year, I’m sure the UBS Hong Kong Open will enrich the city’s event portfolio and offer visitors a thrilling tournament. The HKTB fully supports this longest-standing professional sporting event and will continue to stage and support more international sports events in Hong Kong to consolidate the city’s position as Asia’s events capital.”
Arnold Wong, Captain of the Hong Kong Golf Club, said: “To have the reigning Masters Champion coming to the Hong Kong Golf Club is a great honour and we hope that Sergio and all of the players in the UBS Hong Kong Open field have a fantastic week at Fanling. As always, we look forward to working with all of our partners to deliver another outstanding edition of this great event.”
Harald van Heel, President of the Hong Kong Golf Association, said: “We are once again delighted to be co-sanctioning our national open with our friends from the European and Asian Tours and we naturally welcome the decision to allow all spectators free entry to the tournament during the first two days. Initiatives like this are vital in attracting a new generation of golfers and golf fans to our sport and we hope to see thousands of people enjoying the UBS Hong Kong Open in November.”
The UBS Hong Kong Open is an accredited event celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The HKSAR Government and HKTB fully support the UBS HK Open.
To share the joy of the 20th Anniversary, the HKSAR Government is joining hands with different sectors to organise a wide variety of activities and events under the theme “Together, Progress, Opportunity”.