Woods aims to set record straight at WGC-HSBC Champions

Updated: 2009-11-05 10:36

SHANGHAI: World number one Tiger Woods returns to the HSBC Champions this week with the every intention of wrapping up some unfinished business.

Woods aims to set record straight at WGC-HSBC Champions
Tiger Woods of the U.S. hits the ball at the second tee during the 2009 HSBC Champions golf tournament in Shanghai November 4, 2009. [Agencies] 

The American superstar also hailed the event's elevation into Asia's first World Golf Championships tournament, saying the historic milestone will accelerate the growth of the game in China and across Asia.

Woods will headline a world-class field which will include 15 of the top-20 players in the world, including world number two Phil Mickelson and title holder Sergio Garcia. The region's top starsThongchai Jaidee, Liang Wenchong and Asia's first Major champion Yang Yong-eun are also in the elite78-man field at Sheshan International Golf Club.

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Woods aims to set record straight at WGC-HSBC ChampionsGarcia ready to bounce back and defend HSBC Champions title

Describing the HSBC Champions as "the crowning jewel of all of Asian golf", Woods is on a mission as he finished runner-up here in 2005 and 2006 behind David Howell of England and South Korea's Yang Yong-eun respectively.

"I've been a part of it on two occasions, and how this event has grown to where it's at now is truly remarkable," said Woods.

"Olympic status will help grow the sport in so many of the emerging golf markets, including China.But holding our first WGC event here is another key moment. This tournament will play a big part in spreading the recognition and appeal of golf worldwide. I am excited to be playing this tournament, and I am equally excited that it is being contested in China."

He will no doubt start as firm favorite to win a seventh title of the year after coming back successfully from a major knee surgery. His record in WGC events is also unrivalled where he has won a staggering 16 of 30 tournaments staged.

"I've always enjoyed playing against such great fields. That's the whole idea of having the World Golf Championships. It's not just the major championships that we all get together, and The Players (Championship). It's now these World Golf Championships events. It's a lot of fun for players to compete against these guys. For some reason, I've also had a lot of success," said the 14-time Major winner.

The HSBC Champions will also mark the first time that Woods and Mickelson will compete in the same event together in Asia. Mickelson, who finished tied 14th in Singapore last weekend, currently holds bragging rights over Woods at the HSBC Champions as he won the tournament in 2007 compared to Woods' two unsuccessful attempts.

"I think this is a very important event for the players. We want to help grow the game here in China. We want to compete against the best players in the world. And to be able to win a world-class event in China would mean a lot to me and to all of the other players in the field," said the American left-hander.

Title holder Garcia enjoyed a personal high 12 months ago with a Monday-finish victory at the HSBC Champions which helped him rise to a career high second in the world rankings. But since then, the Spaniard has been winless, a stat which he hopes to change at Sheshan this week.

"It was a great week (last year) and I'm really looking forward to hopefully do something as good or similar," said Garcia. "It brings me good thoughts. I feel like the game is starting to be pretty good."

Like Garcia, history-maker Yang is also relishing a return to the HSBC Champions where he beat Woods three years ago for his first big victory which he memorably repeated at the U.S. PGA Championship in August.

"The biggest memory is of sitting with Tiger during the awards ceremony in 2006. Having my picture taken with Tiger was probably the biggest thrill. And also, the biggest impact I think was when I held that trophy, that was the first European Tour/Asian Tour event trophy that I held up, and that felt like an immense significance towards my career," said Yang.

China's hopes will rest on the in-form Liang, who finished second behind England's Ian Poulter in Singapore last weekend to move to second place on the Asian Tour's Order of Merit.

"This is such a great event. It's a great opportunity for players like myself to play in a world-class tournament," said Liang, who was Asia's number one in 2007.

"My form is getting into shape and I want to thank my coach Kel (Llwellyn) for helping me work on my game. I feel things are falling into place over the past few months," added the Chinese, who will play the opening two rounds with Padraig Harrington and Paul Casey.