Li, Molinari join elite lineup

Home favorite Li Haotong and Italy’s Francesco Molinari are the latest stars to commit to the $10.25 million World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions, joining reigning champion Xander Schauffele and the top four players in the world rankings: Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose.

Li, a two-time winner on the European Tour, will be looking to improve on last year’s T11th finish at ‘Asia’s major’, which tees off from Oct 31 to Nov 3 at Shanghai’s Sheshan International Golf Club.

World No 6 Molinari won the WGC-HSBC Champions in 2010 and the British Open last year.

As HSBC approaches the 15th year of its award-winning title sponsorship of Asia’s biggest tournament, tickets are in high demand while sponsorship sales are also exceptionally strong as everyone wants to be a part of what is anticipated to be one of the best fields ever.

New apparel sponsor Descente, official liquor Nei Can and official water Voss are the newest sponsors, joining a notable group of premium brands that include WeChat, Mercedes Benz, iQiyi Sports, Dell Technologies and The Yuluxe Sheshan, a Tribute Portfolio hotel.

“The buzz around this tournament is already pretty crazy in China. With five of the world’s top six players already confirmed, it will be one of the must-attend events of the year in Shanghai. I can’t wait to be a part of it,” said Li, who is making his seventh appearance at the tournament.

Molinari, the first Italian to win a major, added: “With all of the majors over for the year, we are turning our attention to the final World Golf Championships of the year. The scheduling changes on the PGA Tour certainly have benefited the stature of the WGC-HSBC Champions, and I think it is going to be a huge event for all the players as we aim to end our year on a high with a victory at ‘Asia’s major’.”

Jonathan Castleman, global head of HSBC’s brand partnerships, said: “With another major winner confirmed in Francesco Molinari and homegrown star Li Haotong joining the all-star cast of the world’s best golfers, we already have the perfect ingredients for the tournament to live up to its billing as ‘Asia’s major’. Once again, we know the eyes of the golfing world will be firmly fixed on Shanghai come October.

“WGC-HSBC Champions has gained a reputation for assembling elite fields and delivering incredible experiences. This tournament has been a catalyst for so many exciting developments for golf in China, and we look forward to that journey continuing.”

An early-bird ticket discount of up to 35 percent is being offered through the end of August. Spectators aged 18 years and under can enter for free when accompanied by a ticketed adult, with additional discounts available for students and families.

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