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PGA Tour Moves on to Final WGC Event of the Year
The PGA Tour has shifted its operations from Malaysia and the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur to Guangdong, China, for the 2012 World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions. The $7 million event starts Thursday on the Olazabal Course at Mission Hills Golf Club.
Although the top players in the world, Nos. 1 and 2 Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, aren't in the field, most of the other ranked players are, including - in order of their rankings - Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Brandt Snedeker and Jason Dufner. The only exception is No. 7 Webb Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion.
The tournament began in 2005. Mission Hills - considered the largest golf facility in the world with a dozen 18-hole courses and developed by the late David Chu - hosted the 1995 World Cup, the first golf competition in China.
In April, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem paid homage to Chu, who passed away in October 2011 after a lengthy bout with nasal cancer, for his efforts to make China an international factor in golf. "It is a fitting tribute to David Chu that Mission Hills Guangdong will host the 2012 HSBC Champions. David Chu's vision for the growth of the game of golf in China was unparalleled and he, along with his sons Ken and Tenniel Chu, have executed on that vision," Finchem said.
"I have been to Mission Hills Guangdong on numerous occasions, and I know that the 2012 HSBC Champions will be an outstanding success there."
The HSBC Champions is one of four WGC-sanctioned events. It's overseen by an operational committee comprised of the International Federation of PGA Tours, which includes the Asian Tour, European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, PGA Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia and Sunshine Tour.
The defending champion is Martin Kaymer, who last year closed with a tournament record-tying 9-under 63 to finish at 20-under 268, three shots ahead of Sweden's Fredrik Jacobsen. That victory was the last by the 27-year-old German, who temporarily replaced Woods as the No. 1-ranked player in the world in January 2011.
Kaymer's disappointing 2012 season took an upturn at the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club near Chicago when his clutch putt on the 18th hole beat Steve Stricker in Sunday's singles matches and gave the European team the deciding point to allow them to retain the Cup.
In addition to seven of the top-10 ranked golfers in the world, playing in the HSBC Champions are major champions Keegan Bradley, Paul Lawrie, Graeme McDowell, Phil Mickelson, Geoff Ogilvy, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen.
The two winners last week - Nick Watney (CIMB Classic) and Peter Hanson (BMW Masters) - are also in the field. In all, 10 members of the 2012 European Ryder Cup team and six Americans are competing this week.
All four rounds of the HSBC Champions will be broadcast in the U.S. overnight on the Golf Channel. For more information about the tournament and the field, visit http://www.worldgolfchampionships.com/tournaments/r489.