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August 25, 2009

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HSBC Champions hikes purse

THE World Golf Championship-HSBC Champions will increase its prize money from US$5 million to US$7 million this year, even as a few more top names confirmed their entry for the Shanghai tournament.

Apart from world No. 1 Tiger Woods and defending champion Sergio Garcia of Spain, world No. 2 and 2007 HSBC Champions winner Phil Mickelson of the US and world No. 3 Paul Casey of England have added their names to the list of recent entrants.

South Korea's Yang Yong-eun, who defeated Woods to win the PGA Championship earlier this month, will be the center of attraction in Asia's first WGC event. Yang saw off Woods at the HSBC Champions three years ago, and believes his Shanghai triumph set the stage for everything that has happened to him since.

"Winning the tournament set the foundation for bigger things to come. It gave me the courage to achieve bigger goals, like coming to play on the PGA Tour and of course winning the PGA Championship," the 37-year-old said. "In the bigger picture it definitely changed my career because it gave the strength that I needed and the confidence and belief that I could achieve bigger things."

Yang won the 2007 tournament by two strokes over Woods. He topped that achievement at the PGA Championship, beating the American by three strokes.

Other big names taking part in the November 5-8 tournament at the Sheshan International Golf Club include world No. 5 Henrik Stenson of Sweden, Australia's world No. 8 Geoff Ogilvy, three-time major winner Padraig Harrington of Ireland, as well as Americans Stewart Cink and Sean O'Hair, who will be making their Shanghai debuts.

First staged in 2005, the four-year-old HSBC Champions has been elevated to the elite WGC series this year, with a US$2 million hike in prize money.

With the season-ending Dubai World Championships slashing its purse from the initial US$10 million to US$7.5 million, the economic downturn has seemingly slowed down sports sponsorships. However, HSBC regards the Shanghai tournament as a "sound business investment," according to Giles Morgan, HSBC Group head of sponsorships.

The WGC is a series of high-profile events created by the International Federation of PGA Tours. The events are considered among the leading tournaments after the four majors.


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