December 6, 2016
AMY LO: On behalf of UBS, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to all of you, as we start the final count down to the UBS Hong Kong Open for 2016.
I would also like to take this opportunity to also especially recognise and also welcome all the players joining us this afternoon, as well. Because collectively, if we look around, all the players this year, they have amassed a stunning amount of records and titles, ranging which the Masters, The Ryder Cup to the UBS Hong Kong Open winners, and obviously the first Olympic Gold Medal for golf in the modern era.
As you can see, the UBS Hong Kong Open has really attracted the world-class professionals this year, and it's shaping up very well to be one of the most compelling and competitive tournaments in Hong Kong.
As with all the signs are across the city, I'm also very, very pleased to report that together with the support from all our event partners, we are also going to launch a number of both community and also charitable kind of initiatives, which is designed to reach out to a much wider public, and if possible, to all of Hong Kong.
Like this year, we are also going to offer free admission to all the spectators under 21 years old, and I'm sure most of you still are eligible for that, as well. Actually, tonight we are also going to host a UBS Hong Kong Open charity dinner which also will benefit a number of charitable organisations in Hong Kong.
And last but not the least, I would really like to take this opportunity to thank all our event partners for both their commitment and also all the hard work and dedication behind the scenes to make this happen.
My best wishes to all the players for their excellent performance and also very, very strong score for the tournament. Thank you all for your support, and I look forward to seeing you all at Fanling, which promises to definitely be a wonderful week of golf, world-class sport and also entertainment. Thank you so much.
THE MODERATOR: After your fantastic performance last year, finishing 11-under, are we looking to go a couple better this year at Fanling?
PATRICK REED: Yeah, hopefully play a little better. It's awesome to be back. It's such a great place and such a great golf course. You know, we're excited to be able to make it and looking forward to the week.
Q. As we move to the end of a calendar year, you can't help but look back and assess the last 12 months. For you, there's a moment which of course, becoming Masters Champion stands out hugely. How has that changed you as a golfer and on top of that, how have you reset your goals now having won that major?
DANNY WILLETT: Back in April was a phenomenal week, and yeah, it changes your life massively and all of a sudden become a lot busier. People want a lot more of your time and you need to travel around a bit more and kind of do things that you haven't been used to doing.
So yeah, just kind of getting used to that now, and like you say, being here and doing things like this, it all comes part and parcel. Now trying to reset the goals and trying to get back some of that form that we had back in the middle of this year, obviously the 2016 season and hopefully starting here in Hong Kong and take it forward as a real good kick start to the 2017 season.
Q. Ian, this time last year, you arrived in a little bit more of a whirlwind, shall we say, to the UBS Hong Kong Open. You started the tournament extremely strong, but this year, some injury troubles for yourself. You've won here before. What's your form like coming in and expectations for the weekend?
IAN POULTER: Expectations on a golf course which I love. For me this week, it's about coming out and playing some good golf. I felt like the last six weeks, I've actually played a lot of good golf.
I think there's a little bit of rust in there for having 5 1/2 months off, not holing putts I would normally convert and I think that's down to lack of tournament play. So I certainly feel like over the last couple of months, I've played well enough. I was on the putting green today. The greens are in great shape.
In fact, the course, I went out on to a couple of the holes and I think the course is in the best condition I've ever seen it. It's quite exciting for me to come here to a course I love and a city I love and try to come out and play some great golf against some great players this week.
Q. Liang Wen-Chong, one of the finest and greatest that China has ever produced, but what does the UBS Hong Kong Open mean to you, and what does it mean to come here and play on home soil, and how much does that additional support mean at Fanling?
LIANG WEN-CHONG: I'm so happy to be able to participate in this year's tournament. And while the most memorable moment that I had in the UBS Hong Kong Open, I felt like I've grown with the tournament because I started playing and I started participating when I was an amateur golfer.
I remember most that in 2006, I got a hole-in-one at that time and I won one kilo of gold, and after ten years, I already had my golden ten years. So I'm hoping to keep counting on it, and I enjoy this atmosphere, participating, playing against some of the world's top golfers.
Plus, this tournament is very special because it is the start of The European Tour but it is also wrapping up The Asian Tour. So I'm looking forward to have a better chance, a better result this year at the UBS Hong Kong Open.
THE MODERATOR: Humphrey, we move to you, maybe the least experienced of the five guys on stage but I think the other boys will join me in saying, you've definitely got the strongest handshake. Not sure if you're trying to injure the competition, but I think from all of us, firstly to say, huge congratulations on a successful qualifying tournament, but really, what does this mean to you and how much of an important step is this for you in your golfing career?
HUMPHREY WONG: I'm very honoured to be able to participate again in this year's Hong Kong Open. I participated three years ago and I hope to carry on the momentum and also to try to gain more experience in terms of playing against some of the world's top golfers here.
About the handshake, that's what my parents taught me, because when you first get to know someone, you want to have a good manner and you need to have a strong handshake.
Q. Just to say, you've said you haven't been 100 per cent fit lately. I think you said you've only been about 80 per cent over the last couple of years. Firstly, how is your back, and if you could get 100 per cent fit, what do you think you could achieve?
DANNY WILLETT: No, it's coming on. Obviously we made the decision to pull out of the World Cup a couple of weeks ago. Mainly because we knew that this was the start of the 2017 season. It was a place we wanted to come back to and hopefully put a good show in.
Yeah, the decision was made to take that week off, and it's getting there. It's getting better. It's just a work-in-progress, as I'm sure everyone on this stage has had a little niggle here or there. Obviously Poults has been off for a good bit, as well, and Rosey had to pull out last week.
It's something that we all -- I think if you asked everyone, we'd all be at about 80 per cent all the time to be honest. I don't think there's many guys that could say they are 100 per cent all the time purely because of how much travel we do and sleeping in different beds and playing a sport which doesn't quite fit with the natural movement in the body.
I think 80 percent, 80, 90 per cent is probably what you can hope for at best to be honest. I don't think anyone's ever going to be at a hundred. Yeah, it would be nice to get there. I'm not quite sure how that would feel to be honest. I probably was 100 per cent when I was about ten. (Laughter) be nice to get back there.
Q. You finished just behind the top two last year in your first turnout in Hong Kong. What would you do differently coming in the second time around, and how do you think the course suited your game and what did you like about it? What would you change for this year?
PATRICK REED: Well, the easiest thing is not to feel like I have to hit driver on 4. I tried to go for that green every day, and I think I played that hole in about 4- or 5-over par.
Just play the golf course smarter. Last year I felt like I was a little too aggressive on a lot of holes that I could just hit iron or 3-wood off the tee and keep myself in the fairway. Really, I felt like that is what cost me a chance of winning the golf tournament.
But at the same time, I felt like I did a lot of things really well. This golf course, it's one of the most narrow golf courses that we play all year, and also, it's probably one of the shortest, as well.
It just kind of gives you all those kind of variables that you have to kind of have: Do I play aggressive or do I not. Me, being the type of person that I am, I'm always a really aggressive golfer. I love to go for things and I love to take those unnecessary risks, and just this is one of those weeks that it teaches me to kind of scale back and try to play position golf rather than power golf.
Q. Apparently you were trash-talked by Tiger Woods quite recently. How did that feel to be trash-talked by Tiger, and did you let your play do the talking?
PATRICK REED: I wouldn't really call it trash-talking. It was just kind of friendly banter going back and forth. Ever since he was considered an assistant captain to the team, he's been texting all the guys back and forth; talking to Tiger for I think like six or seven months straight before the event even happened.
There's a lot of shots we give back and forth to each other. It's just something guys do. I definitely let the clubs do what I needed to do that week. But the end of the day, it was find of fun, and to me it was kind of spun the wrong way in the media.
Q. Coming back to Hong Kong after what must have been a tough year with the time out, how have you dealt with the mental side of being away from the game and working on the physical side and not being able to play?
IAN POULTER: In some respects, it's been the best five months off I've ever had in my life because I've spent more time with the family than I ever have before. So to do some great family stuff, be back in the U.K., enjoying some time back home.
But from a professional perspective, it's been difficult to be at The Ryder Cup, on the other side of the ropes, looking in as a vice captain, was a difficult experience. One that I would have said, I really enjoyed it, albeit that obviously Patrick inflicted some pain on behalf of the Americans.
But it was -- for me, it was a great week to gain some experience of what goes on behind the scenes. I've played five Ryder Cups now and I've only seen it from a player's perspective and you're very kind of sheltered away from the day-to-day antics and what goes on, how much time and effort actually gets put in from a lot of people and The European Tour and everyone that do a fantastic job to make the team play well that week. It was great from an experience perspective, but it's been tough to be away.
To come back and find myself right back in the mix, try and be competitive, that's been tough. You can hit as many balls as you want, but you know, to be under the pressure of making a score, holing putts at the right time, getting yourself in contention, it was a bit of a shock on my first week back to be leading after day one.
I think that was the biggest shock of all, and took a bit of time that evening to kind of comprehend what was going on, because I wasn't expecting that. It's taken a little bit of time to get back into it. I feel that my game's in shape. I feel that I'm enjoying my golf a little more being pain-free, and that's a good thing, because it's great to be able to come to tournaments to enjoy golf and try and get back in contention, which I think definitely my game is good enough to do so.
Q. Talking about the ten years ago when you won, you won gold, and ten years after, if you got a chance for a hole-in-one, what do you want to win?
LIANG WEN-CHONG: I don't need much because I have a lot of memories from the last ten years. And not only have I grown with the UBS Hong Kong Open, but to grow together with China golf and to hear the better development of Hong Kong golf, as well.
I'm proud and pleased to know that not only being able to join us in the tournament to compete with the world's top golfers, but also to see some of the young golfers, including in China, Li Haotong, which is probably one of the top young golfers here in China, and hopefully I'm looking forward to see more of the young golfers coming out from Hong Kong and China to have a great result in the international world class.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports