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Tiger Woods to play new Chinese event

HSBC, founded in Hong Kong and Shanghai in 1865 and one of the world's largest financial services organisations, has created Asia's most significant golf tournament, the 'HSBC Champions' tournament, bringing Tiger Woods to China for his first Official World Ranking event.

With major golf events in Europe and the USA, the bank's new 'HSBC Champions' tournament will be played in Shanghai at the Shanghai Sheshan International Golf Club between 10-13 November 2005. And by offering a prize fund of US$5 million, twice the size of anything previously in China and the largest across Asia , HSBC is putting golf in China on a par with the rest of the world.

The HSBC Champions tournament will be the first truly international 'championship of champions' in world golf. In addition to a commitment to play from Tiger Woods, the event brings together winners across four golf tours, matching them with the best players in the Official World Rankings. HSBC has also made provision to invite eight Chinese players in a commitment to involve local talent and support the development of golf in the country.

The event will be co-sanctioned by The European Tour, Asian Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia , the Sunshine ( Southern Africa ) Tour, and the China Golf Association.

Competing over 72 holes of individual stroke play, the field of up to 100 golfers will qualify as follows:

  • · The Top 50 players on the Official World Golf Ranking as at 12 September 2005 .
  • · Winners of all officially sanctioned, Order of Merit/Money List tournaments of The European Tour, the Asian Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia , Sunshine Tour between the dates of 8 November 2004 and 7 November 2005 .
  • · Eight sponsor's invitations.
  • · Eight Chinese players selected by the China Golf Association.
  • · Any player, not otherwise exempt , who is in:
  • - The top 20 of the 2005 Final European Tour Order of Merit.
  • - The top 5 of the 2004/2005 Final Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.
  • - The top 5 of the Final PGA Tour of Australasia Money List.
  • - The top 5 of the current Asian Tour Money List as at 7 November 2005 .
  • · The leading money winner on the 2005 PGA Tour of Australasia 's Von Nida Tour, final Order of Merit.
  • · The leading money winner on the 2005 Sunshine Tour's - Winter Tour final Order of Merit.

· The leading money winner on the final 2005 European Challenge Tour Rankings.

The prize fund of US$5 million will be the largest in the history of Asian and Chinese golf. Uniquely for a stoke play event, in an effort to reward golf's rising stars, HSBC is also providing prize money for the entire field irrespective of whether they play the final two rounds after the 36-hole cut.

Commenting on his decision to play, Tiger Woods said: " I can't wait to come to the HSBC Champions Tournament in China . The best players in the world teeing up head to head, it is going to be a blast for all of us as competitors, but it is also going to be a very entertaining event for all of the people of China."

Home favourite, Zhang Lian-wei enthused: "I think this event will really excite China 's golfing fans as they will be able to come and watch many great champions from all four of the partnering Tours - it will be a world class tournament."

Thailand 's Thongchai Jaidee, added: "This sounds like an exciting new event, that I am very happy to be qualified for. It will be fun to compete against winners from so many different Tours . It should be an exciting competition and I am very much looking forward to it."

Speaking in London of the tournament, HSBC Group Chairman Sir John Bond said: "It is fitting that HSBC, a company founded in Hong Kong and Shanghai 140 years ago, should now play an important part in the development of golf in China . We are honoured by this opportunity and would like to thank the China Golf Association and the Municipal Government for their support.

"HSBC has been privileged to enjoy a continuous presence in the city of Shanghai since 1865, but we are not investing in golf simply because of our history here. In China , we see a country whose economic progress in the last 25 years has been nothing short of astonishing.
By bringing the world's best golfers to play alongside winners across Asia and rising stars in China , we hope the HSBC Champions tournament will further increase the appeal of golf and inspire young golfers across the region.

"Golf absolutely mirrors HSBC's character and how we like to do business. We are therefore proud of this new, increased commitment to the game. Internationalism, inclusiveness and integrity are as much characteristics of the sport as they are of HSBC and we are proud of our association."

Hu Jian Guo , Director of the Multi Ball Association and Vice Chairman of the Chinese Golf Association , added, "The announcement of the HSBC Champions tournament marks our achievement in developing golf in China over the past twenty years. Hosting an event of such global significance is fantastic for Shanghai and will raise the profile of golf in China . We are delighted to welcome the world's leading sports stars, including Tiger Woods, to compete in this significant new international tournament."

George O'Grady , Executive Director of The European Tour, welcomed the new championship: "On behalf of the four partnering tours - The European Tour, the Asian Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Sunshine Tour of South Africa - I would like to commend HSBC for their vision in the bringing the champions of world golf together.

"The HSBC Champions will be the first tournament on The 2006 European Tour International schedule and we are looking forward to a tremendously exciting event at the superb Sheshan International Golf Course in Shanghai ."

"I would also like to take this opportunity of thanking the China Golf Association for the very warm welcome they have extended to all of us in visiting their country next November and we also congratulate the City of Shanghai on hosting the event."

Bob Kain , President, IMG, added: "It is a very exciting time for golf in China and IMG is thrilled to be a part of developing such an innovative new event. The China Golf Association, The European Tour, the Asian Tour, , the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Sunshine Tour have all worked extremely hard together to create this great opportunity for their players."

"IMG also welcomes and applauds HSBC's commitment to the HSBC Champions tournament which complements the bank's support of the men's World Match Play Championship in England and the Women's World Match Play Championship in the USA . We are confident that this new event with its unique qualification criteria will become one of the most exciting and popular tournaments on all four of the sanctioning tours' schedules."

Commenting on the selection of Shanghai Sheshan International Golf Club as the venue for the inaugural, Cheung Yau Choi , President of the Club, said: "I would like to thank HSBC and IMG for bringing the tournament to Shanghai . We are honoured and delighted to be hosting a world-class tournament, the HSBC Champions, here at Sheshan International Golf Club."

"Since our official opening last year, we have paid special attention to our golf course maintenance and development. We hope to offer the best conditions for the players in November. We look forward to welcoming everyone to Sheshan International Golf Club."

With the creation of the HSBC Champions tournament in China , HSBC's support for world golf now spans Asia , Europe and the USA . In Europe , the bank sponsors the HSBC World Match Play Championship offering the highest first prize in the history of golf at the Wentworth Club in the UK . In July this year, HSBC will sponsor the only individual match play championship in women's golf, in New Jersey , USA .

Partnered by tournament organisers IMG, HSBC will be title sponsor of the tournament for an initial period of five years. The HSBC Champions tournament will be broadcast in China on CCTV and internationally by European Tour productions.


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