Rory bids to prolong Hong Kong ‘love affair’

Among the four European Tour events Rory McIlroy has favoured most in his career, he’s enjoyed more success competing in the UBS Hong Kong Open.

McIlroy’s ‘love affair’ with Hong Kong began in 2005 when he travelled to the Chinese Special Administrative District as part of the Faldo Junior Series, spending the week residing in the stately Fanling clubhouse.

He returned two years later in his seventh event as a full European Tour member and while McIlroy missed the cut, his fondness for the tree-lined course soon blossomed as he finished runner-up in 2008 and 2009, sixth in 2010 and finally triumphed last year.

“It’s always great to come back to a place where you played so well and relive the memories, especially in winning last year,” he said.

“It is really an old school golf course. I really love the trees and the way the trees frame most of the holes. You can really see your shots. There is a lot of definition on the golf course, and I just like playing tree-lined golf courses.

“It’s nice also with the Race to Dubai title wrapped up to be able to go into these last events pretty relaxed.”

McIlroy’s banked €761,829 from his five Hong Kong Open showings and a second straight victory would take the 23-year-old over the €1m in winnings.

Joining McIlroy in Hong Kong are fellow Irishmen Pádraig Harrington, Peter Lawrie and Niall Turner.

Lawrie has labelled himself ‘Gingerbread Man’ this week, as he’s currently lying in 60th place on the Race to Dubai.

“I’m the one everyone is after this week so that’s why I’m the Gingerbread Man,” he smiled.

The top-60 on the Race to Dubai at the close of the UBS Hong Kong Open will advance to next week’s curtain closer. And with a fortnight of competition remaining all nine Irish, including Damien McGrane (108th), are assured of retaining their tour cards for 2013.

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