Poulter set for Hong Kong defence

Ian Poulter has confirmed he will return to Hong Kong GC to defend his UBS Hong Kong Open in December.

Ian Poulter has confirmed he will return to Hong Kong GC to defend his UBS Hong Kong Open title from December 1 – 4.

Poulter, who shot a stunning second-round 60 last year to help him win the title, will be joined by rising Italian star Matteo Manassero, and both are excited about the prospect.

“It’s always important to defend any title but I have to say that it was a pretty easy decision to return to Hong Kong,” said Poulter.

“I love the city, the buzz around the whole place makes it exciting to be there and the golf tournament is a good extension of that. We play on a great course that you can really make a score on if you play well and that helps to create excitement for the fans.

“The fans at the UBS Hong Kong Open really get involved and there is an electric atmosphere around there if you are playing well – that’s something that certainly helps me perform.”

Manassero didn’t too badly himself last year, and a final-round 62 form the 18-year-old was only one stroke shoy of focing a play-off with the Englishman. He’s hoping to go one better this year.

“It would be very nice to go one better in Hong Kong this year,” said Manassero, who won his second Tour tile in Malaysia in April.

“I love the course at the Hong Kong Golf Club. You have to use your imagination on so many shots if you want to make a good score there, and if you play the right way you can make a great score.

“That makes the tournament an exciting one for the players and I think everyone enjoys the whole week in Hong Kong because it is such an amazing city with so much going on.”

In related news, UBS has announced that the 2011 event will be the last time they serve a sponsor for the event due to a “strategic shift in their sponsorship programme”.

Kathy Shih, UBS CEO Wealth Management Asia Pacific said: “‘UBS is extremely proud of the central role it has played in establishing the Hong Kong Open as one of the most prestigious championships in Asian golf.

“As part of a strategic shift in its sponsorship strategy away from golf, UBS has decided not to extend its title sponsorship beyond 2011.

“We very much appreciate having been involved in such a successful partnership with the Hong Kong Golf Assocation, The European Tour and the Asian Tour and we look forward to continuing to work with the partners to ensure the success of the 2011 UBS Hong Kong Open”.