Hong Kong Open – Fantasy Golfanac

Course Details

Hong Kong GC in Fanling, Hong Kong
6,700 yards – Par 70 – Bermuda Greens
Fairways: Bermuda/Zoysia

Important Interview Quotes

RAFA CABRERA BELLO: “I think it’s a course that really suits me. I am a more of a strategy player and I have played there many years. I am normally very accurate off the tee and I think that is crucial in Hong Kong.” -2018

Q: This golf course looks like it’s setup perfectly for you. You lead the Tour in greens in regulation. They are small targets, and it’s not a long golf course. Judging on your previous results here, third and sixth, you’re looking good coming into this week.
It’s a great course, it really is, and I think it’s one of those courses where it doesn’t need length to play tough, and the scoring is never that low. You find very few players that would have a bad word to say about the golf course. Most people love it and love the challenge, and it’s hosted the tournament for such a long time. I think that’s credit to the golf course when you have somewhere that has been a constant, you know, part of the Tour and hosting the event, it just shows the course, and everybody wants to play here and everybody has faith that it’s going to put up a great test. For me, I’ve not been coming here long but I’ve always enjoyed it when I have, and I like the challenges that it presents. -2018

SERGIO GARCIA: I think the most important thing here is accuracy. There’s no doubt that it’s the kind of golf course that challenges you every single shot. The greens are fairly small, so you have to be accurate with your iron shots, but you need to be in the fairways to have that accuracy. So yeah, I think like my professional partners have said, obviously it’s the kind of golf course that you don’t need to maybe hit a whole bunch of drivers, but still, it’s going to test you, and those are the courses that we love. We love playing courses that you have to think your way around. It’s not just hit driver and hit it as hard as you can and find it and play it. -2018

Q: Sergio, after The Ryder Cup, you’ve been playing very, very good, and especially in Spain. Can you describe your recent results, and do you see any similarity between Spain golf courses and also compared with Hong Kong?
I think that, yeah, definitely, I see obviously the different courses, and I see a lot of similarities from Valderrama and this golf course. For example, a lot of the doglegs, the tree lines, the small greens. It kind of reminds me a little bit of that. -2018

Q. What’s it take to win around this golf course?
It takes patience I think. I’ve played this golf course well and I haven’t played it well at times. I think when I’ve got a little bit impatient because this course temts you to hit driver. It does offer you the opportunity to hit driver and take on a bit of risk to try and have a little wedge in your hand. I think that just really not letting the course tease you or tempt you into making mental errors. So, it’s a very strategic golf course. -2017

Q. You played nine holes today. What did you think of the course? Any holes that you think are good?
Yeah, I played the back nine. It’s very solid. It’s an old, traditional kind of golf course. I love those kind of golf courses. It’s in great condition. You have to position the ball. It’s not just get there and hit it as hard as you can and find it and deal with it. You have to position the ball well. The greens are great. You have to be very careful where you leave the ball on the greens because you can have some really, really fast putts. So it’s a kind of golf course that I enjoy playing. -2017

Q. There’s been a lot of talk about the number of successful Spanish players here at this tournament over the years. Is that something that attracted you to play here, and is there an advantage? Is there a similarity?
No, I think it’s a good aura around it. We like to come to venues that we know Spanish golfers have been successful. It’s always motivating to try to write down your name alongside some of the greatest Spanish golfers like Miguel and even my friend José, as well. It’s something that you dream about. At the end, it really means nothing, just because another Spaniard won here, it’s not going to help you win at all. You still have to hit the shots and make the putts. It is nice, yes, and Miguel has made sure that the entire crowd loves Spaniards, yeah. -2017

Q. Is it more difficult because of the wind this year?
Of course. Yes, the wind has made it much tougher. Especially the first two days, it was very breezy. Today I think the wind has dropped down a little bit, stayed a bit more consistent. But the first and second round, they were very tough, very gusty and all over the place. -2017

Q. Still a great week for you.
Yeah, it was all right. On the greens, it was pretty disappointing. I would say all four days, really left a lot out there, and really pleased with my ball-striking. I feel like this is the best I’ve hit it all year, really. Gave myself a million chances and didn’t really make anything all four days. A little disappointing but there’s still a little golf left to be played. -2017

Q. Are you going to be aggressive tomorrow?
Just play the same really. You can’t be aggressive at all around the course. It’s very difficult. I think you can — I’ve never been here before, but judging from the practice rounds and when I played, the minute you try and just push that little bit too hard around here, I think that’s when you get caught out.

You don’t have to be aggressive; you have to hit in the fairway, and you can make birdies because you can control your second shot into the green, and generally, you want to be below the hole. You don’t have that many long irons, and you have mid to short irons in and from there you can give yourself chances. But you have to be in the fairway. I think just stick to the same game plan and hopefully hit it the same. -2016

Q. What you’re saying about the play style, you can’t be aggressive around here; does that go against your normal style, or are you having to restrain yourself or does that suit you?
I don’t mind really. Just happy hitting golf shots. Wherever the golf shot is, I’m happy hitting it. I love courses like this. This is honestly one of the best courses I’ve played on Tour. Just shows, you don’t have to have length. -2016

JUSTIN ROSE: I played well today. Just solid enough. Hit loads of greens. Putting on the front nine I struggled with. Just kind of, I guess, yeah, I just missed too many short ones really. Questioning my lines on the greens is tough. I’m not quite finding the visuals of them yet. They were definitely smoother today, so there’s no excuse from that point of view. They are quite grainy, so sometimes I’m playing for grain and it’s not working out. Other times, I feel like the grain is pulling it. It’s just tricky. -2016

Q. Is it in part down to you or down to the course? Seems to be playing tougher today.
It’s just a good golf course, isn’t it. It’s hard. It’s tough to get it close. I was telling Ben, my caddie, I felt like every time I had a birdie putt, it was like straight downhill, downgrain or cross-grain, downhill. Felt like I was being defensive, and it’s really hard to be aggressive. And when you have greens this quick and you could be 12, 15 feet, but you’re playing a couple feet outside the hole and it’s tricky. It’s tough. Just tough to really get it going. -2016

Q. You’ve been here many, many years in Hong Kong and you’ve had many good results. Do you feel like every time you come here, you always play well and have confidence to putt in some good numbers?
Yes, sir, because we know the course very well, the first thing. Other thing, we confident we shape the shots on this golf course. You don’t need to hit a lot of driver. That’s why you have to shape because the fairway is very tight and gives me very confident to play the golf course.

On the green is very important, because the pins very tight today. The pins are so tough on the back nine. That’s why you can see the score, not make very many low score the first round. Normally you can see 7 and 8, but the golf course condition is fantastic. No complaints at all. -2016

Q. Does it help where you’re back at a place where you’ve visited on numerous occasions?
I love it here. This is one of my favourite courses we play all year. To come out here and play well, I’m pretty pleased with how everything went.

Just the conditions of the course, firm and fast. You have to really control your ball around here. It’s not a bomber’s course by any means, so that sort of suits me. But I love it. -2016

Q. What do you make of it as a traditional style like this?
I like it, yeah. Bit tighter, bit shorter and bit more fiddly and sort of tough greens. -2016

Q. Are you finding that you’re getting more experienced at playing around here and knowing what you have to do at Hong Kong Golf Club?
Yes, but this golf course is still really tricky. You need to hole putts, and the challenge of this course is the greens. It’s very hard to hole putts, too. Experience doesn’t help much. -2016

Q. Do you feel it’s a course that should suit you or maybe it hasn’t in the past?
Yeah, that’s kind of how I feel. It sets up good for me. You know, it’s relatively tight which suits me, because I’m not the longest guy in the world. It benefits good putters, so I’ve just always felt like I underachieved a little bit out here a little bit. -2016

Q. We wouldn’t necessarily associate you and your skills with this golf club, but you’ve got a knack of playing it, haven’t you.
Well, I’d like to think that I’m more about than just driving a golf ball. So it takes a little bit of imagination, shot-making, and obviously a pretty sort of sharp short game to get it around this golf course. -2016

Q. What is it about the golf course that you like so much?
Just like an old golf course, tree-lined and small greens, and there’s no just bombing away and just hitting it. You’ve got to think your way around the golf course, and I really enjoy it. It’s one of the few golf courses of the year that I really enjoy playing, and there’s probably only a handful that I really, really enjoy. It’s probably one of the first ones that I make part of my schedule.

Love this golf course. Probably my top three, definitely top three favorite tournaments of the year. Yeah, I think had it been any other week, I would have shut it down for the year. I love this golf course and love this tournament. -2016

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?
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. -2016

Q. Does that familiarity, that experience around Fanling help?
Yeah, I think it does. I think a lot of guys play well on certain courses. This is one of those venues for me where I like the visuals from the tee. I like that it’s positional play. You know, I’ve got some good, fond memories. -2016

Q. Does that mean it’s love at first sight when you stand on some of these tee boxes?
Definitely a lot of the holes suit my eye, so that’s quite nice. Don’t get too nervous over many tee shots out there, which is obviously always a positive. Looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully I’ll be back next year. -2015

Q. Are you relishing Hong Kong? Do you like playing here at Fanling?
Absolutely. I love playing narrow, tight courses and Fanling is about as tight as you’ll get. It’s great when you have to think and navigate, and I really enjoy that. -2015

Q. How is the fact that you are a former champion here, has that helped, that kind of knowledge?
Yeah, definitely. I like the golf course. Fanling suits my game. It’s not all about length; it’s about position in play off the tee. I positioned it pretty well around the golf course today. Didn’t miss many fairways and gave myself some opportunities.

When you’ve shot low rounds on this golf course in the past, you know your lines, you know where you want to be putting from. So yeah, it was nice to get back out there on the course. -2015

Q. It’s not usually a course we would associate with a long hitter doing particularly well but I take it, you’ve put the ball in the right positions?
Yes, it’s all about hitting fairways and giving yourself good chances, because the greens are small. And if you’re missing fairways, then you’re going to struggle to hit it close. It’s tough to make birdies.

So you’re always struggling to save pars, pretty much on every course, but this one especially with the rough and the greens that are firming up. I think since Tuesday, the course is playing a little firmer and a little shorter, as well. I think tomorrow and the weekend, it’s going to firm up, as long as it doesn’t rain.

You know, it’s going to be a lot of — not many drivers off the tee but into the greens, you really have to shape your irons and just be patient on the greens. Obviously today was good on the greens but it’s all about waiting for the putts to drop. -2015

Q. Has it changed your approach to this one, which you say you’ve been looking forward to for awhile. You want to keep it going and all the good form you’ve had across the season?
I’m still here to try and win just like I do every week. It was definitely a place I had on my schedule at the start of the year. I had heard great things about the course. A lot of people told me the course would suit me. Yeah, I wanted to play it and I wasn’t going to pull out because of that. -2015

Q. Do you like the heat?
Yes. It’s nice to be out of the cold of the last three weeks. But it is a little bit humid. -2015

Q. Does this mean you’ve learned how to play this traditional-style course?
My home course in Taipei is Taiwan Country Club. It’s very similar to Fanling. Both are tree-lined, traditional golf courses, and I really enjoy Fanling. -2015

Q. Playing in the States, playing on long bombers’ courses, how nice is it to play on a course where you have to think?
I think when you’re playing both sides of the Atlantic and trying to keep both cards, you end up cherry-picking the best events all the time, and the best events sometimes mean the toughest events. You’re playing tough golf courses against the best fields, and if you’re not on your game, you can get beat up pretty quickly.

So it’s nice to come to a golf course here at Hong Kong Golf Club. It’s more strategic, a little bit more of a thinking man’s golf course. Got to put it in the fairway and you’ve got to grind. I’ve competed at this tournament in the past and I’d love to give it a rip this weekend and be there or thereabouts. -2015