'Superhero' golfers unveiled to kick off WGC-HSBC Champions
October 25, 2016
- Rickie "Eagle Eye" Fowler and Dustin "The Heat" Johnson were among the superheroes unveiled Tuesday in Shanghai. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Five of the world’s best golfers revealed their superhero personas Tuesday at the launch of WGC-HSBC Champions as one of the strongest fields ever assembled in the region gathered for ‘Asia’s Major.’
The tournament has once again built upon its reputation of hosting the very best player line-up in Asia with no less than 40 of the world’s top 50 players teeing off in Shanghai at the Sheshan International Golf Club and – for the first time ever – all four major winners will compete in the China showpiece.
To launch the flagship tournament, the 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 Championship winner Henrik “The Machine” Stenson, U.S. Open winner Dustin “The Heat” Johnson, Rickie “Eagle Eye” Fowler and Bubba “The Magician” Watson plus local hero Haotong “The Force” Li.
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.
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 gathered guests.
For the fourth year running, the WGC-HSBC Champions (October 27-30) has attracted 40 or more of the world’s top 50 players as ‘Asia’s Major’ with Masters champion Danny Willett and PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker amongst the formidable field facing defending champion Russell Knox.
Speaking at the launch, Open Championship winner Henrik Stenson said: “I’ve played in every single 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 Dustin 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.”
Reigning FedExCup winner Rory McIlroy added: “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 Haotong “The Force” 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: “Quite simply, this is one of the strongest field ever assembled in Asia – forty of the world’s top 50, eight of the world’s top 10, all four major winners, two Olympic medalists 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, of course, Shanshan Feng’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.”
Defending champion Russell Knox said, “It is a fantastic field gathered for the final World Golf Championship of the year and it will be a daunting task to defend my title but a challenge I am looking forward to. You can see with entry of such impressive strength and depth exactly why this tournament is called Asia’s Major by so many of the players on Tour.”
The tournament boasts the toughest qualification criteria of all the World Golf Championships, with the majority of the field qualifying only by winning a key tournament on their Tours or by being ranked in the world’s top 50.
Superheroes of the PGA TOUR arrive in Shanghai