November 7, 2006
SHANGHAI, CHINA: Pre-Round
STEPHEN GREEN, GROUP CHAIRMAN, HSBC: We have HSBC Champions 2005 winner, David Howell. World No. 1, Tiger Woods. And HSBC 2006 World Match Play winner, Paul Casey. And also Zhang Xiao Ning, Director of the Multi-Ball games Centre of the State Sports General Administration, CGA, Mr. Qiu Wei Chang, Vice Director of Shanghai Sports Bureau. Mr. Ren Xiang Yang, Vice Director of Shanghai Songjiang District Government and Mr. Richard Cheung, Chairman of Shanghai Sheshan International Golf Club.
We've invited you here to mark HSBC Champions 2006, which is set to build on the positive impact of the debut tournament brought last year to China's golfing community. In addition to bringing together the world's best players to Shanghai, for what will be another exciting four days of world class golf. This year we're also proud to have hosted the HSBC Future Champions Tour, a grass roots program in partnership with the China Golf Association for nurturing young, local golf talent here in China.
Our long standing presence in China and our commitment to be part of China's future makes the HSBC Future Champions Tour the perfect platform to work together with CGA and support the long term development of this great sport here in China.
Golf is a sport industry and has an inclusiveness that reflects HSBC's values and characteristics, just as Champions represents an important part of HSBC's sponsorship worldwide. China has of course seen remarkable growth in the last two decades, not just economically but also in the area of sports in general and golf in particular. We hope that the HSBC Champions tournament will draw the world's attention to both China and Asia and help promote the game in this region.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the state general administration of sports, the China Golf Association, the Shanghai Sports Administration, the District Government and Sheshan International Golf Club for their support towards HSBC Champions tournament. Without their support it would not have been possible for this event go to forward.
ZHANG XIAO NING: On behalf of the China Golf Association, we believe the future of golf in China is tremendous with HSBC Champions being held in China, it brings in all of the world class players and also shows around the world that we can host such a wonderful event. Here we would like to pay our appreciation to The European Tour, the South African Tour, the Asian Tour and last but not least, HSBC for supporting golf in China. Thank you very much.
STEPHEN GREEN: Now I would like to introduce David Howell.
DAVID HOWELL: I would like to say what an honour it is to be defending champion of the HSBC Champions tournament. Obviously it's going to be no easy task defending my title with the calibre of players like Tiger and Paul sitting here. I'm looking forward to the challenge trying to beat these two guys and the rest of the field and everybody who is here this week has either won a tournament or is ranked as one of the world's top players. It's a great field and a great tournament.
So we would like to thank HSBC for your support not only here, but throughout the golfing world. You sponsor two or three of the biggest events we're lucky enough to play in, and we're certainly lucky enough for your support and this tournament here in China in particular has become Asia's major championship. You know, the fact that Tiger is here again just goes to prove what a great tournament this is and thank you and we look forward to four days great golf coming on Thursday.
STEPHEN GREEN: David thank you. Perhaps I can now ask Tiger to say few words.
TIGER WOODS: First off, it's great to be back here. This is my second time here in Shanghai, and last year was just a tremendous experience and HSBC has been such a fantastic sponsor of not only this event but other events around the world such as The Match Play that I played in earlier this year.
Again, just like David said, this is a fantastic field and a fantastic event, all of the top players have come from all over the world to play in the event this week, it's going to be a lot of fun for all of the spectators that come out to follow the event. Also, HSBC has been tremendous help with our foundation, the things that we are trying to do back home and we are going to come out with something here early stages of next year that's going to be pretty exciting for everyone.
So again, what HSBC has not only done for golf but also for kids and in helping the, particularly my foundation, has been absolutely tremendous. Just like anybody else, I'm looking forward to Thursday and the rest of the week.
STEPHEN GREEN: Paul, would you like to say a few words?
PAUL CASEY: I'd like to reiterate what the two gentlemen next to me have said. I'm looking forward to this week as the start of the 2007 European Tour season. It's a great way to crack off the beginning of the year with HSBC, such a wonderful sponsor. It's going to highlight the world's best players this week, and also a lot of the Asian talent. There's a great future, golfing future, a lot of the Asian players and a lot of them are going to be playing here this week and everybody will get to see those players on the world stage, which will be great. As David said, this really is sort of Asia's major, and I would dearly love to add this and try to do an HSBC double after winning the World Match Play earlier in the year. It gives me an opportunity to attempt that. Simon Dyson won the HSBC Indonesian Open earlier this year, so he's also got an opportunity to go for an HSBC double. And I really look forward to the beginning of the week. It's going to be a lot of fun playing against these guys and great to be back in China.
TIGER WOODS: I think sports in general is inclusive, and I think that's a unifier in itself. You put aside all different things once you hop onto a field or a pitch or in between the lines or whatever happens; you compete. And I think sports in general is a tremendous way to bring together religious differences or cultural differences, or even geographic differences, whatever they may be.
But certainly sports has done that over the decades and I think will continue to do that now. Especially golf in particular, golf has become such a global sport. My time as a professional out here in ten years has really grown tremendously around the world. I think golf is certainly changing, becoming more global and as you're seeing it become more global, you look at the Top 50 to 100 players and the majority of them were American born. That's not the case anymore. And I think that's what's fantastic about it is we are seeing a tremendous influx of talent from all over the world, and I think it's been tremendous for our sport and it's only going to help grow it and expand it.
Q. What is your comments on the Chinese golfers?
RICHARD CHEUNG: All of the Chinese players will meet together tonight, have a meeting and hopefully we will have a much better result this year compared to last year. Thank you.
First of all, the prize money is the highest of HSBC Champions and also the number of players is highest from Asia, we are proud to have HSBC Champions being host in China. A lot of people, the general public in China, might not have heard of golf before, but now after their inaugural HSBC Champions last year, more and more people can watch the golf event through TV, magazines, newspaper, and also get to understand more and more about HSBC. Also, compared to the players from overseas, we can also understand the difference between the domestic player and the overseas, world class player. I truly believe because of the HSBC Champions being held in China, more and more people will get into the game of golf and start playing golf, also. Thank you.
Q. You looked to be having a good time during the speeches; what did Tiger say to you Paul?
PAUL CASEY: Tiger should probably answer this, but I was joking how I was going to beat him come the weekend and he was telling me that probably wouldn't happen.
TIGER WOODS: That's paraphrasing. (Laughter).
PAUL CASEY: He was really insulting my table tennis skills, and I really need to brush up. No, we were just having a laugh, we were joking, we're really looking forward to getting things started on Thursday and just relaxing sitting up here.
Q. Paul, you just missed out being the Order of Merit on The European Tour in 2006, but now you are in Shanghai competing in HSBC, what do you think your chances are?
PAUL CASEY: Order of Merit was 2006, and this is a new year; it's 2007. It's nice that 2006 was over so quickly, a week after Valderrama. I'm just really looking forward to getting this year started, and no better place to do it than here in China at the HSBC Champions event. 2006 was a fantastic year for me, I progressed nicely, got myself up in the World Ranking, and the HSBC match play was the biggest win of my career so far.
So I'm just looking to chase these guys sitting next to me, trying to emulate what David did last year and you know, learn from Tiger and one day hopefully pick up a couple of events, maybe a major or something like that and just learn a lot from these guys sitting next to me.
Q. I have two questions for Tiger. First of all, we have heard that you didn't take part of the Tour Championship maybe for better preparation for HSBC, so I'm wondering if there is any special meaning of this HSBC Champions for you. And what do you think of any unique personalities of yourself to attract so many fans all over the world?
TIGER WOODS: As far as not playing the Tour Championship, it's been a long year. I played, had some things happen earlier in the year and took some time off during that and then played seven out of nine weeks with a two day stint in Ireland for practise rounds with our Ryder Cup Team and I was basically just tired. I needed some time off to get away from the game a little bit. It was nice. I figured the way I ended the season was pretty good. I had a nice little run to end the season, so I just wanted to take some time off and get focused and be ready for this event. And I have three tournaments right in a row here coming up and just wanted to make sure I was playing well coming to this event. Hopefully I can put it together this week and continue what I've been what I was doing prior to my time off.
As far as personality traits, I don't know what it is. Maybe I hit the ball high and hit the ball far at times. But other than that, I just try and go out there and compete and enjoy competing. I enjoy mixing it up with these boys here on stage, David and Paul; that to me is a rush. Maybe that's what people see, that I thoroughly enjoy getting out there and mixing it up with the guys and try to beat them all. It just something really fun, something that I've dreamt about ever since I was a little kid, and now I get a chance to live it each and every day.
Q. What do you think of the course, and how has your life changed after you won the HSBC Champions?
DAVID HOWELL: Well, to answer the first part, the golf course is a fantastic course. I certainly like the way it plays. (Laughing) One hole stands out on the golf course for me, it's maybe not the most difficult, but 16 is a great short par 4 hole, and it's a risk/reward hole. You can go for the green or you can lay up and your chances for birdie or eagle, whichever way you play the hole and it comes at a really interesting time in the round with three holes to go and that sets up a fantastic finish to the course with the 18th also being a reachable par 5. The toughest hole I can remember is probably the ninth hole with water near the green.
And second part of the question, how did life change, well, not dramatically. Obviously as golfers we strive to emulate Tiger in winning such great events and HSBC was certainly the biggest win of my career to date last year. It started a wonderful season for me and enabled me to go on and partake in the Ryder Cup this year, which was another great week for The European Team certainly.
But other than that, just more momentum within my golfing career, that was really all it did for me. I can't say I'm super famous anywhere or anything has changed from that point of view. But it is nice to see our faces plastered all over Shanghai as we're driving around the streets here. So that probably wouldn't have happened obviously if Tiger had beaten me last year.
Q. You are good friends with Michael Jordan and also the No. 1 tennis player, Roger Federer, you are also good friends with him. Mr. Federer is competing in the Masters in Shanghai this week, will you be having any opportunity to go and watch him play or is he coming to watch you play? The tournament starts on Sunday.
TIGER WOODS: Busy on Sunday. (Laughter).
Roger is just a fantastic, fantastic individual, I mean, just a great person that I've gotten lucky enough to get to know him this year. He invited me to the U.S. Open and we've become good friends since. I would like to go watch him play tennis any time. He's a marvel to much watch how good he is. He just makes it look so easy. Maybe one day I'll have a hit at him and maybe he's never seen anything coming at him that slow; so it will be a bit different, but we'll have fun.
Q. Talking about your break, can you say sort of what you did over your break and how you're feeling now, you said you wanted to recharge your batteries; are they recharged in and we just read a little bit about our plans for your golf design business, could you talk about those goals for your golf design?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, as far as being recharged, yeah, five weeks was nice. The first week and a half of that was basically done I did a bunch of sponsor stuff, shooting commercials and doing a bunch of those things. And after that, it was just nice to get away and lock up the clubs for a little bit. I worked pretty hard this summer and didn't take hardly any time off, any days off this summer.
So it was nice actually to lay them down and get away and then come back refreshed and recharged and ready to go again. So I've got these three in a row and I've got my tournament at the end of the year, and I want to make sure I play well in these four events.
As far as my course design, it's something I've always wanted to do and I wanted to make sure that I played around the world before I ever got into course design. I wanted to see what basically every continent has to offer and basically observe and play and experience those different philosophies that all of the different architects have had in each region, and I'm lucky enough to have done that. I just felt it was time for me to try something different, something creative and something that will challenge me in a different way. Certainly something I've really, really been looking forward to.
Q. Being present at The Grove when you won and being present when you said you needed a break and you're sort of worn out, do you feel as though you deserve the criticism you got for not playing in Atlanta last week?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I took a bit. That's just the way it goes. You can't play 'em all, and events you don't play, people are going to wish that you were there to play. That's just the way it's going to be.
You know, that's one of the interesting things about our sport is that we're lucky enough to be able to determine our own schedule. I played a lot this summer, and it was a lot for me, more than I normally do. So that was nice to actually get away from the game a little bit before I started playing again.
Q. At the Volvo Masters, for the Order of Merit, did you think it was in the bag, and have you spoken to Padraig Harrington since that time?
PAUL CASEY: Yeah, he bought me a beer at the airport in Malaga. (Laughter) Yeah, to answer the second question, yes, I have spoken to him. It was out of our control. It's one of those things and he played some great golf, I mean, cracking golf in the last eight holes or so to finish in a tie for second place, which is exactly what he needed to do. So congratulations to him.
The first part, it was touch and go. I mean, I did all I could that day to finish where I did. It was out of our control, and I honestly felt that the number of players and the quality of players at the top of the leader board going into the final day, that it might turn out in my favour, but that's golf. Sergio, middle of the fairway, making bogey wasn't something I thought he would do, but unfortunately that's what happens. The good news is that we're now 2007.
Q. We understand, Tiger, one of your major sponsors is Buick, yesterday one of the owners of Buick had a competition and hopefully they will be fighting for a Pro Am spot. And at the end, the Buick sponsors showed footage of you speaking in Chinese. Would you mind saying that again? A lot of world class players have made their golf course designs in China, do you think in the near future you might come to China and have a golf course design?
TIGER WOODS: My Chinese is not very good. If I can remember it, I would say it, but I can't remember what I said.
But as far as my course design, I would love to have an opportunity to come to China to design a golf course. That would be a I would be very lucky to have that happen. Maybe one day I can be fortunate enough to have that happen.
Q. I remember you played with a Chinese player, Zhang Lian Wei last year in the HSBC and we have some new talent to come over this year and one is named Mu Hu; I don't know if you have heard of him. I just want to know if there are any thoughts of Chinese young talent or if you have any advice for the Chinese players coming to this event.
TIGER WOODS: Of course I have heard of Mu Hu. Obviously China is young when it comes to golf but it's growing remarkably quick. You look at all of the Juniors and their golf swings and with the advent of videoing golf swings and getting proper instruction at an early age, you are seeing kids progress faster than they ever have in sports history. It won't be long. Zhang played in the Masters, so pretty remarkable. I think that's certainly going to happen in the near future, more talents are going to be coming into our great game via China.
I think what we are all starting to recognise is opportunities for tournaments like the HSBC Champions here and a lot of the events that come to China, there are a lot of talented can kids that are coming up and playing. It's just a matter of time. Give them another ten years, and you're going to see just a tremendous influx of talent in our great game because of time and the proper technique and training.
Q. This is a question for Mr. Qiu. The Sports Bureau of Shanghai, we have a lot of supporters in tennis and F1 car racing, can we have more and more support generated through the HSBC event?
QIU WEI CHANG: First of all it's wonderful to have HSBC and the China Golf Association to have HSBC in the City of Shanghai. Also, we have seen in addition to HSBC Champions, we have a lot of major golf events being held in China and in Shanghai. I truly believe with all of the major golf events being held in Shanghai and the other parts of China, the development of China golf will be tremendous. We can see that in the last couple of years, track and field has generated a lot of publicity in the whole country of China because we have seen 25 Chinese athletes win the gold medal in the Olympic games and other major track and field events. In that case, I'm sure if the Chinese golfers can have a better result, in competing in this kind of major event, and more and major companies putting the sponsors in China, we will see the golf in China getting bigger and bigger and more tremendous result.
STEPHEN GREEN: Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes our press conference.
End of FastScripts.