The Tour hits China
It’s the BMW Asian Open this week and I’m in…China. It’s the first time the European Tour has ever visited the country and I’m looking forward to the event very much.
A big reason why it’s that extra bit special for me is that I’m the defending champion. When the tournament was last staged – in Taiwan at the end of 2002 – I held on down the stretch to win by one from India’s Jyoti Randhawa.
On that occasion I needed to sink a 10-footer for par at the last, which I managed for a victory that I’ll always look back fondly on. I was going through what some may say was a hot streak at the time and the win was sandwiched between successes in the Dunhill Links and the Target World Challenge event in America. I’d be absolutely delighted, then, if I could trigger a similar spell of form with a win this week!
Defending a crown
As I’ve already hinted, defending a title is always very enjoyable. You are given plenty of attention in the days building up to an event, including a trip to the media centre for a press conference. It is part and parcel of defending and you’re happy to do it. The media are an important part of the golf scene – as are tournament sponsors – and ensure the sport is well promoted.
As I mentioned in my diary after the Macau Open, there are a load of good players out on the Asian Tour – too many to list here. Several of them are bound to show up well this week and I expect to see KJ Choi perform well. ‘KJ’ already has a European Tour win under his belt following last year’s German Masters and showed everyone how good he is during the Masters, recently. Alex Cejka is also worth watching - he was on the leaderboard for a while at Augusta and has picked up several European Tour titles.
As for the course, it’s fairly long at 7,300 yards and I think it’s a really good test. It’s a par-72 with all the par-5s at 550-yards plus. They save the longest of them to the last with the 18th measuring 590 yards. There are a couple of long par-4s, as well. Take the 4th – that’s 490 yards while the 15th is 477 yards.
The course is not just protected by its length but also water. There are plenty of brooks and lakes ensuring your concentration doesn’t waver! Anyway, I can’t wait to get started and am hoping I can put up a strong defence of my title. I’ll bring you up to date with how it went next week.
Thanks for catching up with me!