|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
November 6, 2007
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests and we welcome everybody here to the 2007 HSBC Champions press conference. Our host of this afternoon's press conference is Mr. Vincent Cheng, chairman of HSBC Asia Pacific. Mr. Chairman, welcome.
This afternoon's event is attended, also, by Mr. Wang Li Wei, Director of Multiple Games Administration of State Sports General Administration; Mr. Qui Wei Chang, Director of Shanghai Sports Bureau; Mr. Ren Xiang Yang, Deputy Director of Sheshan District Government; Mr. Richard Cheng, President of Sheshan International Golf Club; and also Mr. Giles Morgan, Group Head of Sponsorship HSBC; and also we have Mr. Robbie Henchman, Senior Vice President Director of Asia, IMG. Welcome aboard and thank you very much, indeed for your presence.
Representatives from the 2007 HSBC Champions players have also been invited to attend this afternoon's press conference and please allow me to introduce them one by one, as well. Mr. Retief Goosen, two-time U.S. Open Champion, winner of the 2007 Commercialbank Qatar Masters, welcome. Mr. Zhang Lian Wei, Asia and China Tour champion; Sergio García, world No. 12 player. Angel Cabrera; 2007 U.S. Open Champion and winner of the 2007 Singapore Open, welcome.
World No. 2, winner of the 2007 PLAYERS Championship, Mr. Phil Mickelson. 2006 HSBC Champion from Korea, Mr. Yong-Eun Yang. 2007 Open Champion, Mr. Padraig Harrington.
Winner of the 2007 HSBC World Match Play, Mr. Ernie Els. World No. 10, major winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Mr. Vijay Singh, welcome. And last but not least, AT&T national champion, K.J. Choi.
Now ladies and gentlemen, would you please so kind as to putt your hands together for Mr. Vincent Cheng, Chairman of HSBC Asia Pacific.
VINCENT CHENG: Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us here today at this press conference. It is a great honour for me to be on stage here with ten of the world's top players. They represent the finest field of golfers ever assembled for a tournament in Asia, representing HSBC Champions as the top tournament in the region.
Now in it its third year, the HSBC Champions 2007 is set to be a positive impact that the tournament brought in the past years to China's golfing community. I believe the fantastic reception that the players have received here and the strong support for the authorities send a very positive signal about China's ability to stage world class sporting events ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
In addition to bringing together the world's best players to shank shy for what will be another exciting four days of world-class golf this year, we are also proud to have in partnership with the China Golf Association, jointly-launched HSBC China junior golf programme. This programme, which builds on the success of last year's HSBC Future Champions Tour, is the only officially-sanctioned junior golf programme in China, and we hope to nurture local talent and produce a
home-grown winner in the world golf arena.
Building on the tremendous success of HSBC Champions, next year we will host Asia's most significant women's golf tournament, the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore. Golf is a sport of integrity and inclusiveness that reflects HSBC's values and characteristics, and HSBC Champions represents an important part of HSBC's sponsorship of golf worldwide.
This is a game that can be played by the old and the young, and one that is enjoyed in practically every country around the world. The players here today come from five continents, demonstrating the global nature of this game, and illustrating why golf is such a good fit for the world's local bank.
In order to allow everyone to be able to speak with the amazing array of professional players assembled here today, I will keep my remarks very brief, but please allow me to conclude by thanking all of the committee and authorities that have made HSBC Champions such a successful event. Our sincere thanks go to the Administration of Sports, Shanghai Sports Administration, Sheshan District Government and Sheshan international government, and last but not least, thank you, our media friends for attending today. Thank you.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, let's welcome the Deputy Director General to say a few words.
WANG LI WEI: With five cities in the Asia Pacific region, this is a great effort in promoting golf sports in this area. And we have seen the increase of the enthusiasm of players and fans in golf sports, and this year we have selected eight players, eight local players who will compete with those world players in the same field. We hope that they can play well and have good results.
The CGA signed an incorporation agreement with HSBC and the HSBC China Junior Golf Players Programme. We have hosted a series of events, which has been very successful, including the Junior Golf Players Championship, as well as the golf camps.
We also conducted a series of training programmes, and opened a Web site dedicated to this Junior Golf Programme. So it is a systematic and sustainable endeavor for the development of junior golf programme.
To conclude, I wish the 2007 HSBC Champions a big success, and I wish all the players play well, and I wish all the media friends have a wonderful and unforgettable week in Shanghai.
THE MODERATOR: As we know today we are very lucky and fortunate to have a lot of good and world-class golfers here, and so great to have them, it's a rare occasion for us, as well, so why don't we just utilize this moment to also get to know what they feel about this, and what they have to say about this upcoming tournament for the HSBC Champions. So I'll start with our players here one by one.
Mr. Cabrera, I'm going to start with you, first. This past season, you've been really great and also your form is fantastic. Could you tell us or share with us your secrecy of maintaining this kind of form and what are you looking forward to in this tournament?
SERGIO GARCIA: (Translating English to Spanish).
ANGEL CABRERA: Of course, this year, it's my first win in a major, it's very important in the U.S. Open. Well, thank you very much, it's been a very great year for me winning my first major championship, the U.S. Open this year and finishing it very well, as well and we had a win last week and I'm looking forward to starting this next season with very, very good form as well.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Certainly we are looking forward to that, too.
Mr. Els, I understand that you really also did very well this year as the winner of the 2007 HSBC World Match Play. So tell us, are you nervous here now a little bit, or are you under tremendous pressure to perform well?
ERNIE ELS: I think after last week, I am a bit under pressure. (Laughter).
But I really am looking forward to my time here in Shanghai. Obviously winning the HSBC World Match Play was really a thrill for myself, especially playing, basically at my home club.
So I'm really glad to be back playing another HSBC event. And I love coming to Asia. I think the people are wonderful. The golf public, the knowledge is really growing in this part of the world, and people seem to be very friendly over here.
So, I enjoy playing over here. I played nine holes on the course today. I think the greens are excellent, so I think the players, not only here, but in the whole field, can look forward to a very well-conditioned golf course. So I'm looking forward to that.
THE MODERATOR: The third question will go to Mr. Choi here. Well, I guess we would like to know, what do you make of the Champions tournament concept? Basically it's a high-ranking tournament itself however many people have different views about it. We would like to know more about your thoughts on this tournament.
K.J. CHOI: I really like it, having the winners of events from different tours all around the world is a great idea. The tournament has grown in stature over the last two years, and it obviously worked because I've heard that HSBC has now introduced it for the women's game, as well, following with the creation of the HSBC Women's Champions event next year in Singapore in February.
THE MODERATOR: Our next question will go to Mr. Harrington here. It seems to us that actually this past season was also very satisfying to you, too, really. Would you think that winning The Open was one of the highlights in the past for you, in the past season, particularly?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yes, I do believe it was a highlight of my year. It certainly was a dream of mine from when I started playing golf to winning The Open Championship. It was a goal over the last couple years, and it's great to come to the HSBC Champions as The Open Champion, and it does mean something to me to hold that honour, and hopefully this week, it starts off the new 2007-2008 European Tour Order of Merit. I came very close last year in the battle to win that, and hopefully this week, I'll have a good start and a good run to get my Order of Merit points up and get another challenge this year. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We wish you luck, as well, in the upcoming tournament.
The next question will be going to Phil Mickelson. Phil, this is really your first time to be in China, and we would like to obviously know your first impression about this country, and particularly this city of Shanghai that is hustling and bustling.
PHIL MICKELSON: Shanghai is certainly a beautiful city. I went to Beijing yesterday with my family to show them The Great Wall of China and to show them the Forbidden City. China has some of the most amazing cultural opportunities for us to see, and I'm so excited to have my family with me to experience them.
I believe The Great Wall of China is the most magnificent structure ever created, and I couldn't get over what a wonderful and exciting opportunity it was for me to see that firsthand and to have my children with me.
I also am excited to be here in Shanghai to help bring world-class golf to China. HSBC has done an amazing job, such a wonderful job, bringing players from all over the world to showcase here in Shanghai, and I'm very appreciative for that opportunity. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Well, very impressive. So given that it's the very first time for you to be in Shanghai, as well, I am afraid you won't have too much time to cover all the bases. That will give you good reasons to come back next year. We certainly look forward to having you next year for the HSBC Champions. What would you say?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I would love to. First, I'm excited about playing this golf course. I think that the Sheshan golf course is a very challenging test of golf, and all of the players up here are going to have to have their best game to play it well. The greens are fast, the rough is up and tough, and it's going to be a great challenge. And I hope that everybody here in China appreciates what HSBC has done in helping bring world-class golf here to Shanghai.
THE MODERATOR: All right. As well, speaking of challenging, actually, I would like to ask our two-time U.S. Open Champion Retief Goosen, well, Retief, just now Phil mentioned about the course itself really. What do you make of the course here? Everybody says, you know, it could be difficult, it could be very harsh or whatever; your comments on that, please.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, the golf course, it's definitely this year in its best condition I've seen it. Like so many players say, they are really looking forward to playing the event. They have done a lot of hard work on the course, and it's going to play tough.
You know, I obviously enjoy the course. I had a chance to win last year and messed up on the last hole. But I'm very much looking forward to getting out there and playing again. It's a great event, a lot of great players here, so I'm looking forward to it.
THE MODERATOR: Question to Mr. Garcia. I know that you want to be here to have a good time, as well, as many players here do. However, what do you look forward to and what is your practical ambition, shall we say?
SERGIO GARCIA: I mean, as everybody else, I'm really looking forward to this week. I think, of course, we all come with the same goal, which is playing well and having a good chance of winning this week.
For most of us, it's the beginning of the 2008 season for The European Tour, so it's always nice to hopefully start well, get some nice Ryder Cup points and get on a good start for the Money List. So I'm looking forward to that and just hopefully finish the year nicely and, you know, take a nice rest.
THE MODERATOR: We do have a question for Vijay, as well. Last year you almost won the title -- we might say almost doesn't count here, so I'm sure for this tournament, you want to make your presence felt, as well. Would you say so?
VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, definitely. I played here two years ago and the golf course was not as good as this year. I played it today and the greens are just magnificent. I've never putted on greens that good in Asia before, and it's as good as any greens I've putted on all year.
So I think the players are going to enjoy that. The rough is up, so you need to keep on the fairway. I said, "You like the rough?" He said, "Yeah, but I never hit it in the rough." The rough is really something to think about this week.
But I was just impressed with the condition of the golf course. It's a golf course that's in great shape, and the field is really strong. You know, last week was a good field, but this week, HSBC have gone a little further and got a better field. I think it's the best field we've ever had in Asia, so I'm looking forward to that.
I would just like to thank HSBC for having me here and hopefully we can all put up a good show this week.
THE MODERATOR: Great. Vijay sounds, also, very confident, as well. Good luck. World No. 12 player, Vijay Singh.
Well, time for to us talk to our defending champion from Korea. Last year you probably were considered a dark horse. Nobody expected you to win; however you did brilliantly well. This year, probably people would love to look up to you, as well, and you might be under some pressure. What do you look forward to?
YONG-EUN YANG: First of all on behalf of the players, I would like to thank HSBC and the Chinese Golf Association for having us here. Last year's win for me was the highlight of my career, and winning this tournament gave me the opportunity to play and establish myself on The European Tour.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed.
The last question is for a local player and No. 1 among local players, Mr. Zhang Lian Wei. It's good to see you here. So, many people want to know that as a golf player, in particular No. 1 in China, the impact of the HSBC Champions on the development in golf sports in China, what kind of influence does this event exert upon China, and particularly as a professional golfer, what do you make of it?
ZHANG LIAN WEI: Dear friends from the media, good to see you. We know that the HSBC Champions is a tournament for champions of the champions. And it is very important, and it is the highest profile of all golf events in China, as well as in Asia Pacific region. So it creates a platform that people from other parts of the world can know about the development of golf sports in China, as well as a gate way for China's local players to know about foreign players.
And this year, as the third of the series of HSBC championships, we have attracted a large number of great players. It's not an easy job for a young tournament, but it does create a good platform and also a good opportunity for local players to learn from our counter parts in foreign countries.
Also, I would like to thank the Sheshan Golf Club for providing us a very good course. Also, I would like to thank my agency, IMG, forgiving me this opportunity.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much for your presence and for your speeches. We certainly wish on behalf of everybody that you guys have a great run and fantastic performance and run in Shanghai. Thank you very much, indeed.
Now, the floor is open for questions.
Q. My question is for Giles Morgan from HSBC. This is the third year of the HSBC Champions, so what results have been achieved in the first two years after the tournament comes to Shanghai and what will be the highlights of this year's tournament. Thank you.
GILES MORGAN: Since we started, the HSBC Champions in 2005, we've been all thrilled with the huge impact that we've made on the sport within China, as well as throughout Asia and around the world. This has really captured the imagination of many of the players and the media, the champions of champions format.
But what I think we are most proud about is using the top players that we see assembled here today and the other players who have played here before is that we've captured the excitement of golf and educating a whole new generation of golfers to come through, and the work that we are doing with the CGA, with the golf programme there, is our way of trying to really develop the sport for China.
In terms of what we are looking for this week, is through the great media attention and focus that you all give us, is that we have superb crowds who come and watch the greatest golfers in the world applying their trade and whoever lists the trophy, we will be delighted to welcome them into our family.
Q. The first question is for Mr. Wang Li Wei. So, in recent years, we have seen a greater number of golf events coming to China. What is the status, what is the position of HSBC Champions among all these events? And the next question is for Phil Mickelson. You rank No. 2 both on the World Ranking as well as the PGA Tour ranking. So what are your expectations for next year?
WANG LI WEI: Thank you for your question. As you know, the CGA, after a few years of efforts in creating a systematic framework of golf events, we have achieved preliminary results. So HSBC Champions is one of the most important tournaments in China. In fact, the introduction of high-profile tournaments into China will arouse the enthusiasm among the golf players and fans in China. It will also attract more eyeballs and it also will provide good opportunities for the local players and fans to watch the world-famous players on the field.
As to the significance of this tournament, I would like to echo Giles Morgan and Zhang Lian Wei by saying that it plays an extremely important role for HSBC in promoting this sport in China, in particular, our partnership in the China junior golf programme.
Tomorrow we will have some other events and I hope to see you all.
THE MODERATOR: And Phil?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, I was staring at the beautiful chandeliers, would you please repeat the question? (Laughter).
Q. So I hope you won't mind my saying that your ranking and the prize fund ranking on the PGA are both second, so what is your expectation for the future?
THE MODERATOR: Hopefully the question she raised won't upset you.
PHIL MICKELSON: No, no, no, that's fine.
Next year is a very exciting year because I believe that some areas of my game are getting better and better. And this year, I did not compete the way I wanted to in the majors, and so next year that is what I'm looking forward to. I'm trying to become a better player to continue to have chances and opportunities to win major championships.
And so my goals, my expectations, are to perform well in the majors, specifically, for next year.
THE MODERATOR: So we are looking forward to seeing a better Phil Mickelson next year, as well.
Q. Two questions. One is more Mr. Zhang Lian Wei. Last year at the press conference, you said that the local players are competitive enough but what they lack is the mental preparation, and what is your expectation for their performance for this year's tournament? So what is your personal plan for next year, are you going to play overseas? The second question is for Mr. Cheng from Sheshan Golf Club. So to host such a big tournament, it takes a lot of resources. And what is the biggest benefits or the biggest impact that this tournament has brought to the Sheshan golf club?
ZHANG LIAN WEI: Thank you for your question. Yeah, you have a good memory. I talked about this issue last year. So every year, we have seen progress, so under the leadership of the CGA, we have seen the emerging of new events like the Omega China Tour and the World Cup.
But against that backdrop, this HSBC Champions offers a tremendous, good opportunity for local players. And I believe that as the local players are more skillful and play better, they will have better performances, not only in this event but in other golf tournaments.
And also, I would like to thank you for your interest in my plan. In fact, I play in the China tour as well as the Asia tour, so this will be the two focuses of my next year's plan.
RICHARD CHENG: So as the host of the HSBC Champions, the Sheshan Golf Club looks at this event in two aspects. One is that it helps to promote our golf club. Because we are the host to this great event, we are more popular and we become more influential in the golf circles in China.
And I think the credit should go to the CGA, the Shanghai municipal government and related departments, as well as the Sheshan District Government. It is because of their focus and government that we make this event better and better.
Secondly, I think hosting such a high-profile event is a great driving force for the development of golf sports in China, so we try our utmost to do a better job and make this tournament better and better. And I would like to thank you for your continuous focus and support of golf development in China.
Q. This is a question for Phil. We have ten world-class players here. You are the highest-ranked golfer here this week. I just wanted to ask you if you picked out the tie today yourself or your wife picked it out for you so you can out dress everybody tonight.
SERGIO GARCIA: Hey. Excuse me.
PHIL MICKELSON: It was not difficult -- no, I'm kidding.
My wife is my fashion consultant. I listen to everything she says, and it was her fashion sense that helped me accomplish such a wonderful goal, thank you. (Laughter).
THE MODERATOR: I guess as a follow-up question, Phil, if you win this tournament, probably your wife would dress you in an even more impressive way, would you say so?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, no. This is as good as it gets for me.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Because of time constraints, we have to conclude this Q&A session, and also our press conference. Thank you so much for your participation in this press conference.
End of FastScripts