HSBC Champions upgraded to WGC

This year’s edition of the HSBC Champions in China has received a significant boost with elevation to the elite World Golf Championships and a $2m (€1.5m) increase in prize money.

The International Federation of PGA Tours and China Golf Association revealed today that the 2009 tournament will become the fourth WGC event, joining the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, WGC-CA Championship and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

The WGC-HSBC Champions, which takes place at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai from November 5 to 8, will also enjoy a major boost in prize money with a $7m (€5.4m) purse up for grabs.

“This is one of the most significant steps ever taken in the globalization of golf, and one of the most logical,” said US PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, speaking on behalf of the International Federation of PGA Tours.

“HSBC and IMG have built the HSBC Champions to a point where it was obviously the tournament outside golf’s traditional heartlands that was tailor-made to be included as a World Golf Championships event.

“World-class golf has arrived on this continent and the map of the golf world may never look the same.”

The HSBC Champions has been played annually in Shanghai since its inception in 2005 and the China Golf Association is delighted with the event’s elevation.

“We welcome the upgrading of the HSBC Champions to a WGC event,” said CGA secretary general Zhang Xiaoning.

“This will be the main force driving the development of the sport of golf in China.

“We will actively coordinate with all parties involved to reach a common understanding that is in line with the CGA’s guidelines, in order to ensure the success of the event.”

The first four editions of the HSBC Champions were jointly sanctioned by the European Tour, Asian Tour, Sunshine Tour and PGA Tour of Australasia and featured leading players from all over the globe.

“Following four very successful years we are delighted that HSBC is continuing its sponsorship of the HSBC Champions,” said George O’Grady, chief executive of the European Tour.

“The European Tour is very happy to support their extended commitment to the tournament, and the enhanced status of the tournament to a World Golf Championships event thus seeing the PGA Tour join as a sanctioning body, meaning that the event is now sanctioned by all the world’s Tours.”

Among the players who will be in Shanghai to vie for the title later this year is current world number one Tiger Woods.

“I played in the HSBC Champions in 2005 and 2006 and I am looking forward to returning to Shanghai this November,” said the winner of 14 majors.

“It is an event that symbolizes the amazing progress of golf in Asia and its new World Golf Championships status underlines how firmly China has established its place on the global golf calendar.

“I enjoy playing around the world when possible, and having a WGC event in China is very important to the global growth of the game.”

World number three Sergio Garcia will also be returning to defend his title.

“I was delighted to win the HSBC Champions and am looking forward to defending my title in November,” said the Spaniard.

“The tournament certainly has a very special feeling and many of the players already referred to it as Asia’s Major.

“Now there is no doubt about it. It is officially recognized as being a cut above the rest.”

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