Shanghai, China: Five of the world’s best golfers revealed their superhero personas at the launch of WGC-HSBC Champions as one of the strongest fields assembled in the region gathered for ‘Asia’s Major’.
The tournament takes place at Sheshan International Golf Club, designed by Nelson & Haworth Golf Course Architects, an Associate Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
For the first time, all four reigning Major winners will compete in the China showpiece.
To launch the flagship tournament, five players starred in ‘Return of the Superheroes’, an all-action animated film that celebrates their individual superhero qualities.
Taking the lead roles were Open champion Henrik ‘The Machine’ Stenson, US Open winner Dustin ‘The Heat’ Johnson, Rickie ‘Eagle Eye’ Fowler and Bubba ‘The Magician’ Watson plus local hero Li ‘The Force’ Haotong.
The innovative film is designed to make these golfing stars accessible to the wider global audiences attracted by the sport’s return to the Olympics and will be used as the opening credits of the European Tour broadcast. It can be viewed here Return of the Superheroes
The glittering event was held at the Himalayas Centre in downtown Shanghai, and following the video premiere, the five players featured in a Q&A session.
For the fourth year running, the WGC-HSBC Champions has attracted 40 or more of the world’s top-50 players with Masters champion Danny Willett and US PGA winner Jimmy Walker among the formidable field facing defending champion Russell Knox.
Stenson said: “I’ve played in every HSBC Champions event going back to 2005 and there is some serious momentum behind it now. Just look at the quality of the field – that tells you all you need to know.”
Big-hitting Johnson echoes this view: “Winning the WGC-HSBC Champions in 2013 was a real breakthrough moment for me. The event has been great for golf in China, which seems to get better every year.”
Recent winner of the FedEx Cup, Rory McIlroyadded: “There is real energy and momentum around golf in Asia at the moment with new events added and more players on the Tour. Much of that momentum started here so it’s exciting to be back in China at the tournament that set the standard for Asia.”
China’s very own emerging superhero and Olympic golfer Li said: “Playing at home is always very special but HSBC Champions is different. This is the one every Chinese golfer wants to win. It feels like our Major and it’s the only chance we have to take on the very best players in the world with the support of our own fans. That brings a level of excitement and energy which can inspire and I seized upon that last year. Hopefully I can do the same this year.”
HSBC Global Head of Sponsorship and Events Giles Morgan said: “This is one of the strongest field ever assembled in Asia – 40 of the world’s top-50, eight of the world’s top-10, all four Major winners, two Olympic medallists and 19 of the 24 Ryder Cup representatives.
“The quality of field is what inspired our superhero theme and, in the year that DC comics unveiled its replacement for its famous Superman character as Shanghai-born ‘Kenan Kong’, it felt appropriate for us to celebrate the superhero skills of some of the world’s best golfers.
“When we first brought HSBC Champions to China in 2005 our ambition was to create a world-class international golf tournament in an emerging market. Over the past decade the event has earned the reputation of ‘Asia’s Major’ and this year’s WGC-HSBC Champions is the first truly global tournament following golf’s return to the Olympics.
“As such, we’re going into the week with some hugely positive momentum on the back of Rio 2016 which opened golf up to a whole new audience, especially in Asia where Feng Shanshan’s bronze medal captivated the nation. Now, as we prepare for the next chapter in this sporting success story, it feels like we’re on the verge of golf’s new horizon.”