Timely boost

Sports | 10 Oct 2019

Former British Open winner Henrik Stenson has confirmed he will make his debut at the Hong Kong Open in November, giving the city a massive boost following the cancellation of major sporting events amid violent anti-government protests.

From the Formula E grand prix to women's tennis and squash, Hong Kong has been forced to drop big events it has been scheduled to host because of the citywide unrest. But the golf showpiece at Fanling will tee off as scheduled from November 28 to December 1, with a cast led by defending champion Aaron Rai of England.

Hosted by the Hong Kong Golf Club,the tournament will serve as the opening event of the European Tour's 2020 Race to Dubai.

And it will also play a decisive role in shaping the Asian Tour's Order of Merit as it is one of the few remaining events on the calendar this season.

"I'm excited to play the Hong Kong Open for the first time in my career," said Sweden's Stenson, who lifted the Claret Jug in 2016 after beating Phil Mickelson in a final-round shootout at Royal Troon.

"It is hard to believe that I have not played this tournament before because I've always heard great things about the course, the city and the fans, so it's nice to kick off my 2020 Race to Dubai season with something a little bit different."

The 43-year-old Swede topped the Race to Dubai in 2013 and 2016.

Rai will defend the title he won by one shot from Matthew Fitzpatrick last year. "Winning last year was incredible for me," he said. "The course is amazing, the city is great and the crowds showed me some great support. I will always have wonderful memories from this event."

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