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McIlroy Looks to Repeat in Hong Kong Open
No. 1-ranked Rory McIlroy, who has already sewed up the money-list titles on both the PGA and European tours, is back in Hong Kong to try and defend his title in the Hong Kong Open.
The $2.7 million tournament, held since 1959, has had only one back-to-back winner - Taiwan's Hsieh Yung-yo in 1963-64 - in its 53 years.
In the first round of the event - co-sanctioned by the European and Asian tours - at Hong Kong Golf Club the 23-year-old Northern Irishman will be paired with Matteo Manassero and China's Wenshong Liang.
Also in the field are Scotsmen Paul Lawrie and Colin Montgomerie, England's Paul Casey and Simon Dyson, and Americans Matt Kuchar and John Daly.
This will be the sixth year MicIlroy has played in the tournament. "I first came here in 2006 as part of the Faldo Series, and then played my first Hong Kong Open in 2007," he told reporters Tuesday during a Q&A.
"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.
"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 (Wednesday) in the pro am and getting to familiarize myself with it a little bit more."
Manassero victory in last week's Singapore Open - where he beat South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff with an eagle - secured the Race to Dubai title for McIlroy, who finished third in Singapore. With his finish atop the PGA Tour's earnings list for 2012, McIlroy duplicated the record set last year by Luke Donald of leading both tours in money won at season's end.
The Ulsterman tipped his cap to the 19-year-old Italian in helping him reach that goal. "It's nice to not have to worry about it," McIlroy said of taking the European Tour's money-list title, "knowing that I've already got that wrapped up with a couple events to go. Matteo did me a favor 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 (Westwood) 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."
Manassero said he'd like to try and emulate McIlroy's success, but knows that might be difficult. "When I think of Rory, I think he has an impossible game to imitate," he said. "He is so good and he plays probably the best game in the world."
For updated scoring in the Hong Kong Open, visit http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/season=2012/tournamentid=2012090/leaderboard/index.html.