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November 13, 2012

Vincent Fung

Padraig Harrington

Matt Kuchar

Paul Lawrie

Rory McIlroy

Kathryn Shih

Paul Symes

Yong-Eun Yang


THE MODERATOR:  Today we are honoured to have the presence of five of the biggest stars of the world of golf who will share with us their thoughts on the tournament.  Over the course of the afternoon, these champions will tell us about their preparation for the UBS Hong Kong Open and how they like the city and what is their plan for the rest of 2012.
The success of the UBS Hong Kong Open is the result of a lot of hard work and dedication by key stakeholders of the tournament.  Today we are honored to have representatives of the Hong Kong Golf Association, the local government and UBS who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the tournament continues to be a great success here with us today.  Mr.Vincent Fung, Hong Kong's Assistant Commissioner for Tourism, Secretary of the Mega Events Fund.
Also, Ms.Kathryn Shih, CEO of UBS Wealth Management, Asia Pacific.
Also, Mr.Peter Aherne, President of the Hong Kong Golf Association. 
We welcome four‑time US PGA TOUR champion making his debut at the UBS Hong Kong Open this week, Matt Kuchar.
Major Champion and member of Europe's triumphant Ryder Cup Team, Paul Lawrie.
Three‑time Major Champion and winner of the UBS Hong Kong Open in 2004, P√°draig Harrington.
The first Asian player to win a major title at the 2009 US PGA Championship, Y.E. Yang.
Last but not least, defending champion, two‑time major winner and world No. 1, Rory McIlroy.
VINCENT FUNG:   Peter, Kathryn, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is an honour to be here today to witness the launch of this signature event, the UBS Hong Kong Open.  The Mega Events Fund is proud to see this event come to Hong Kong again, and the UBS Hong Kong Open is indeed one of our oldest professional sporting events.
We are pleased to give support to this historic championship in 2012 with the support of the Mega Events Fund.  The Hong Kong Open has grown as a signature event with the participation of a very strong field of players, which is unprecedented in its long history.
The Fund further enables a range of publicity and promotional events as well as community events to enable the people in Hong Kong to enjoy this and to promote Hong Kong as a premiere tourist destination and engage the public in this sport.
Hong Kong indeed as the capital of Asia has different types of events all year round.  In addition to the Hong Kong Open, we also support events like the and the Hong Kong WinterFest and we have the annual countdown to the Dragon Lion Dance of New Year's Day, and additional events in the Chinese New Year like the Chinese New Year parade and festival.
Along with all of these, you can see that we have an excellent skyline here at The Peak that reminds everybody that despite a heavy schedule in Hong Kong and other business, to take time with the city life here, whether you are coming to have good food or enjoy shopping or the attractions.  We hope that you can have a very happy stay here and we wish you success in the tournament.
KATHRYN SHIH:  Distinguished guests, star players, members of the media, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to today's UBS Hong Kong Open 2012 press conference.  I am delighted to welcome the players joining us this afternoon, and thank them for taking time from their very busy schedules here to be with us.
This year's UBS Hong Kong Open has attracted a parade of major champions, Ryder Cup stars from both sides of the Atlantic and several past winners of the UBS Hong Kong Open, including defending champion Rory McIlroy, who enters the tournament as the world's top‑ranked golfer.¬† I believe he hopes to become the first player to defend his Hong Kong title successfully since 1964.
Hong Kong is delighted to welcome the star golfers from the European, Asian and US PGA Tours to the UBS Hong Kong Open,  the city's oldest professional sporting event, and on behalf of UBS, I wish them an enjoyable and successful stay.
2012 marks the second year that the UBS Hong Kong Open has been supported by the Mega Events Fund.¬† The significant support lent by the Mega Events Fund is a strong indicator that the Hong Kong Open will continue to go from strength‑to‑strength.¬† It is also recognition in the promotion of Hong Kong before a global audience, and indeed this was a key objective when UBS took up title sponsorship of the event in 2005.
We thank the Hong Kong government for its robust support and look forward to working closely with all parties towards another outstanding UBS Hong Kong Open in 2012.
The success of the UBS Hong Kong Open would not be possible without the support of the European and Asian Tours and the Hong Kong Golf Association, and I thank them, also, for their tireless efforts.
I would like to thank the many staff volunteers from UBS who will be working tirelessly over the week ahead.
All that remains for me now is to wish the players the very best of luck for the UBS Hong Kong Open 2012.  Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you all in Fanling.
PETER AHERNE:  Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Hong Kong gore association, welcome to the 2012 UBS Hong Kong Open.
I would like to thank UBS for their continued support of this event.  This is now their eighth year as title sponsor.  I would also like to express my thanks and gratitude to the Mega Events Funds for their help and commitment to the event.
Their assistance helps to brings leading players such as those present today to compete in the UBS Hong Kong Open showcasing Hong Kong as a destination.  It also helps to take golf to a wider audience, through community engagement programmes such as golf in the city in which these players participate and which are very important to help spread golf in Hong Kong.
Thanks to the European and Asian Tours as co‑sanctioning bodies of the event, whose support over a considerable number of years has helped to make the tournament the world‑class event it is today.
Finally, I would like to welcome to the star players here today and wish them the best of luck for the week ahead.  Thank you.
THE MODERATOR:  The UBS Hong Kong Open will begin on Thursday, as you all may know and the press conference today offers a unique opportunity for all of you to get up close and personal with the star players of the tournament.
I will take this opportunity to introduce on stage Mr.Paul Symes, Press Officer of The European Tour, who will conduct a Q&A session with the champions.  After that, we will open it up to the floor.
Please take the stage.
PAUL SYMES:  Start with you, Paul.  You had last week off, Paul.  Perhaps tell us, was it a nice, relaxing enjoyable week, or were you hard at work on the range?
PAUL LAWRIE:  I was at home last week, a bit of frost which was quite nice; saves you from hitting balls.  Had a nice break with the boys.  The boys were off school for a couple of days.  We played nine holes in the afternoon a couple of days and hit some balls, which was quite nice.  Nice to spend time with the family.  I was two weeks in China and last week at home, so it's all go.
PAUL SYMES:¬†¬† You're 10th in The Race to Dubai.¬† Presumably you're very keen to end the season in the Top‑10 and claim a share of the bonus pool.
PAUL LAWRIE:¬† Yeah, I'm obviously in 10th position at the moment and kind of hanging on my by finger tips.¬† Nice to have a good week this week and next week and finish inside‑‑ I think I've only finished in the Top‑10 twice in my career so to finish Top‑10 would be pretty special.
PAUL SYMES:  Welcome to Hong Kong, Matt.  Your first time here, perhaps you could start by why you decided to add the tournament to your schedule this year?
MATT KUCHAR:  When I got to the invitation to come to the UBS Hong Kong Open, it was an opportunity for me to come to Hong Kong for the first time.  Always had heard so many great, positive things about the City of Hong Kong.  And when the invitation came, it was an opportunity that my wife and I were excited to go to a new city to see a place like this; to experience the culture, and so far, we got in last night, but today has been great.  It's a beautiful city, and one I'm looking forward to getting to know better.
PAUL SYMES:  You obviously play but predominantly in America; is it an enjoyable experience any time you come abroad to play in different conditions and against different players?
MATT KUCHAR:  It's always good to test your game amongst all of the different players in the world as much as you can, as well as on all of the different courses.  I think the US PGA does a good job of offering a great deal of variety on the courses, but any time you come somewhere new, there's always new challenges, learning courses, new grasses, different places to play; that I think is great for the players to test themselves, test their games and to see how good the competition is outside the U.S.
PAUL SYMES:  Rory, even by your own high standards, your record here is impressive.  Tell us what you enjoy so much about the course and the tournament.
RORY McILROY:  Yeah, Hong Kong has always been a place that I really enjoy coming to.  I first came here in 2006 as part of the Faldo Series, and then played my first Hong Kong Open in 2007.
So this will be my sixth Hong Kong Open and yeah, I've had a great record.  I mean, I was involved in a great playoff here in 2008, and I've come close a couple times and last year I was lucky enough to finally get my first win here.
So Hong Kong is just a great city, it's always got a great buzz, a great atmosphere and something about Fanling and the Hong Kong Golf Club, I really enjoy.¬† You know, looking forward to getting back out on the course tomorrow in the Pro‑Am and getting to familiarise myself with it a little bit more.
PAUL SYMES:  You mentioned how much you enjoy the week.  How much more enjoyable would it be as Race to Dubai champion this week?
RORY McILROY:  Yeah, it's nice to not have to worry about it; knowing that I've already got that wrapped up with a couple events to go.  Matteo did me a favour on Sunday in the playoff.  But yeah, it's nice.
Again, I've come close a couple of times in The Race to Dubai.¬† I was second to Lee in 2009 and second to Luke last year, so to finally be able to win The Race to Dubai is a big‑‑ for me, it's very special.¬† It was one of my goals at the start of the year and to be able to achieve it, not even having to play well the last couple of events, is nice.¬† But obviously I want to finish the year off as strongly as possible, and it would be great to defend here hopefully and have a great chance to win in Dubai next week, also.
PAUL SYMES:  Moving on to the man with the mustache, Pádraig, perhaps disappointed with the way it went last week but before then you had been showing some pretty consistent form.
P√ĀDRAIG HARRINGTON:¬†¬† I've been happy with how I played most of this year.¬† I've hit the ball nicely.¬† I haven't been putting very well, so obviously it was nice to win a couple of weeks ago in Bermuda.¬† I holed a few putts.
Yeah, I'm showing some nice form.  Hopefully it will show up this week, as well, but I'm quite confident going into next year, as well.
PAUL SYMES:¬† You won the tournament here on your debut, finished runner‑up; so your tournament record speaks for itself.
P√ĀDRAIG HARRINGTON:¬†¬† Yeah, I'd like to say that individually, it stands out that this is a great golf course for me, but I think everybody here loves the golf course.¬† Fanling is one of the best venues of the year.
We are playing in a city; we are playing in the City of Hong Kong, which you would be surprised, it doesn't always happen when you're on Tour.  Sometimes we are an hour and a half away from the city.  So there is a genuine good atmosphere about the event and we are playing on a golf course that every player out there, really, really likes it.
Some weeks you turn up at golf courses and half the field like the golf course and the other half, it doesn't really suit them.  But I think this week, there's no player going out there that doesn't really love the golf course.
PAUL SYMES:  Last but not least, Y.E., you finished seventh in the UBS Hong Kong Open last year, so presumably you come here with a lot of confidence this time.
Y.E. YANG:  It's going to be my last official tournament of this season, and I want to go out with a bang.  Obviously we have formed a great field this week, so it's going to be tough.  But always the competitive juices will ooze out when you get on to the field and with all of these great guys sitting right next to me, the juices are going to be massive this week.
Appropriately, in such a magnificent city, I do want to finish magnificently.  So hopefully, yeah, I will do much better than last year.
PAUL SYMES:  And how would you assess your form coming into this week?
Y.E. YANG:¬† I think last week was a good set‑up week for me to get into the right form and condition and playing in a little bit of extreme conditions.
This week, I'm hoping that the whole conditioning side is all prepared and I can go out and perform as well as I can.

Q.  You've obviously had a fantastic year, how much more can the golf world expect from you, and is it a case now of carrying on what were doing before, or are you looking for a very small improvement that could make a big difference?
RORY McILROY:¬† Yeah, I think if you asked any of the guys up here the same question, we are always trying to improve.¬† We are always trying to get better.¬† That doesn't necessarily mean that you have to overhaul your game or try and change your swing in any way.¬† But just make improvements on different aspects of the game, whether that be your bunker play or your chipping from semi‑rough or your ability to hit the shot left‑to‑right or right‑to‑left.
There's always different aspects of the game that you can improve, and I'm going to try to keep doing that obviously, and I feel like I've gradually progressed and gradually improved every year that I've been a pro.  That's definitely something that I still want to do going into 2013.

Q.  How much of an effect will the move next year of The European Tour, the move of the dates of the Hong Kong Open, starting the calendar and finishing it off, how much of an impact will it have amongst the players coming to Hong Kong?
RORY McILROY:  I'm not sure, and that's actually the first time I've been made aware of the change of date.  So it all depends.  You know, if guys like coming to Hong Kong, then they will still continue to come here and play the tournament.
It really depends on the individual.  I can't really comment on a group collectively, but it's a great tournament, it's a great course.  Guys love coming to the city, so hopefully it won't have too much of an impact on this tournament.

Q.¬† After The Ryder Cup, curious how it feels to be playing in a European Tour event after The Ryder Cup, I have to ask you, sorry about that‑‑ by the way, welcome to Hong Kong.
RORY McILROY:  (Laughing, putting arm around Matt).
MATT KUCHAR:   Thank you, I really do love Hong Kong.  (Laughter) the great thing about the game of golf is that every week, you start over.  You start from scratch and no matter what you did the week before, you won a tournament, you missed a cut, you go and have to start fresh, and what you did, doesn't matter the week before.
So fortunately, The Ryder Cup was six weeks ago thereabouts, and you know, I've kind of played a number of events and I've been able to move on.  It was an amazing event.  The Ryder Cup is and seems to be every year just a fantastic event.
This year was, again, just an amazing event.  The U.S. Team was on the losing side, but you look at it from a whole greater perspective and it's one of those things that continues to attract more fans to the game of golf and more interest to the game of golf.
It was a great event and now we're removed and it's just the nature of the sport and the nature of us as individuals is you learn to move on and that's kind of the way I looked at my continuation to the Tour.

Q.  You just won both Money Lists in Europe and the PGA TOUR, and you just won the PGA best player this year.  So what is your next target next year; winning more majors?
RORY McILROY:  Yeah, as I said earlier, I just want to try to keep improving as a player.  It's very nice this year to win the Money List on both sides of the Atlantic.  It's an accomplishment that has not been done that many times before.  Luke did it last year and I've been able to emulate him this year, which is nice.
Picking up these awards at the end of the year is always a nice honour and it's very special, and looking ahead to next year, yeah, I just want to keep improving, keep trying to become a better golfer and if I can do that, then hopefully the tournament wins will come and more majors will come with that, also.
I'm not putting any sort of goals or targets out there.  I just want to keep trying to improve and keep trying to get better.

Q.  I remember you have won the Hong Kong Open at Fanling and I would like to know why didn't you come again in these recent years.  And second, I remember you have said the Fanling golf course is very easy to play off; how do you prepare for yourself in Fanling this week?
P√ĀDRAIG HARRINGTON:¬†¬† Yeah, I won in 2003.¬† I've been back a few times since then.¬† I think I came back and tried to defend in 2004.¬† I remember Miguel √Āngel Jim√©nez won that year pretty much down the stretch.
You know, as regards tournaments, as much as this is a great tournament, at times it has to fit into a player's schedule.  It's amazing when you have a great tournament, it helps to have other good tournaments around it.  We played last week a great tournament up in Singapore; we come down here the week, and professional golfers like to tend to play a couple of events or maybe even three events at a time.
It is situational.  You can run the best event, and as I said, this would be one of the more favourite of events on the Tour; the golf course is superb.  UBS do a great job in their sponsorship.
So it doesn't lack anything here, so it really does come down to a player's personal choice at the end of the year and whether it fits into the schedule.
As regards my preparation this week, I prepared like I would for most tournaments.¬† I played nine holes yesterday and nine holes today and I'll play the Pro‑Am tomorrow and hopefully come Thursday morning, I'll be ready but not tired.¬† It's always a question of trying not to overdo it.¬† Some weeks we do; some weeks we don't.
But hopefully as I said, the important thing is that you are ready Thursday morning and that you are still able to be fresh on Sunday afternoon if you're coming down the stretch in contention.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, please give a big round of applause for our star players here.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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