SHANGHAI, China (AP) — Phil Mickelson will be looking to turn things around Thursday when he tees off for Asia’s biggest golf purse at the HSBC Champions tournament.
The American, ranked No. 2 in the world, is the top draw in an impressive field that features 10 of the world’s top 20 players at the US$5 million (3.4 million) event at the Sheshan International Golf Club.
It is Mickelson’s first visit to China and comes after a disappointing showing in Singapore last weekend. Bothered by the tropical heat, Mickelson finished joint 23rd with an eight-over-par 292, 16 shots back of winner Angel Cabrera of Argentina.
“I feel a lot better. I had a bit of a virus on the weekend, and I think that the heat made it a little worse,” Mickelson said.
“But I’ve had a good practice session this morning and I’m starting to hit the ball much better, and I’m expecting to play well this week,” he added.
Cabrera, who had a breakthrough win at the U.S. Open in June, will also be in Shanghai.
The two will be joined by world No. 4 Ernie Els of South Africa in a heavyweight draw that is missing Tiger Woods, the top player in the world who is bypassing the tournament this year.
Vijay Singh, who finished second to Cabrera in Singapore, will vying for the title, as will British Open champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland and South African Retief Goosen.
Defending champion Yang Yong-eun of South Korea, who held off Woods to win by two strokes last year, is ready to repeat his winning performance.
“It’s great to return here as I have so many good memories from last year,” Yang said. “I felt really at home playing on this course and I hope it will be the same this year.”
China’s leading player Liang Wenchong, the Asian Order of Merit leader, will also be competing.
The HSBC Champions is a special event on the Asian Tour and does not count toward the race for the Asian Tours Order of Merit title.