Westwood to replace Els at challenge

Updated: 2011-09-10 08:10

(China Daily)

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Westwood to replace Els at challenge

BEIJING - World No 2 Lee Westwood (pictured) has replaced Ernie Els in the Shui On Land China Golf Challenge from Oct 10-16 after the South African withdrew from the week-long, 18-hole event due to personal reasons.

The Englishman's participation means the event boasts two of the world's top four players after Rory McIlroy moved to fourth in the official world golf rankings following his joint-third finish in the Omega European Masters on Sunday.

Westwood, who has already won two titles in Asia this year, joins McIlroy, their Ryder Cup teammate Ian Poulter and Chinese No 1 Liang Wenchong for the innovative, made-for-television tournament.

The four golfers will compete over two or three holes at each of eight courses in Shanghai (Oct 10), Beijing (Oct 11-12), Dalian (Oct 13), Chongqing (Oct 14), Dongguan (Oct 15) and Macao (Oct 16). The players will also participate in pro-ams and coaching clinics at selected venues.

"I've played in China before, but I'm really excited about the Shui On Land China Golf Challenge because we'll be visiting six cities spread across the country and playing eight top-class courses," Westwood said.

"China is really booming and each time I visit I'm always surprised at how it's changing, so this event should be a real eye opener," he said. "Along with the golf, this will be a sightseeing tour with good friends. I'm mates with Ian and Rory from the European Tour and I've played with Liang a few times, although I'm going to know him a lot better after this. None of the rest of us speak Chinese, so Liang will be the most important player there!"

Vincent Lo, chairman of Shui On Land, believes the addition of the world No 2 has boosted the caliber of the field.

"We're delighted that Lee Westwood will compete in the inaugural Shui On Land China Golf Challenge, which now features two of the world's top four players," Lo said. "Lee will enjoy a unique tour around China and visit many dynamic cities and spectacular golf courses for the first time, so we welcome him aboard this momentous journey."

Last year, Westwood was runner-up in the Masters and British Open and then succeeded Tiger Woods as world No 1 in October, topping the world ranking for 17 weeks.

The Englishman then regained top spot in April after winning the Indonesia Masters and also won the following week's Ballantine's Championship in South Korea before conceding the No 1 spot to compatriot Luke Donald in late May.

China Daily