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Chinese Taipei's Lin Wen-tang is looking forward to lifting the UBS Hong Kong Open title again when the 54th edition of Hong Kong's longest-running event tees off on Thursday. It has been a welcome return to the Hong Kong Golf Club for the five-time Asian Tour winner as he retraced his steps to glory four years ago.
"Hong Kong is after all a Chinese country and as a Chinese, this place has given me lots of wonderful memories especially with my win in 2008," said Lin.
"I'll always remember that winning putt on the second play-off hole that year. It never fails to bring a smile to my face, each time I recall those magical moments. It's only my putting that needs work. I missed a lot of short putts last week and hopefully I can putt better at this golf course which I've won before," added Lin.
Since Lin defeated Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and Italy's Francesco Molinari in an enthralling play-off to win the UBS Hong Kong Open in 2008, no other Asian players have emerged victorious.
Lin admitted that they have to step up their game including seasoned professionals like himself so that they can add their name to the roll of honour again.
"We're seeing lots of younger winners nowadays. Just look at how much McIlroy has improved since I defeated him in 2008. And last week's winner in Singapore, Manaserro, he has lots of potential at just 19 years old," said Lin.
"On any given day, I believe we can match each other in terms of skills. But I think it's the mental aspect that we need to work on. We also need to raise our bar higher so that we don't fall too far behind these younger boys," added the 36-year-old.
After losing the title to Lin in 2008, McIlroy has bounced back in style.
The 23-year-old erased the heartbreak by winning the UBS Hong Kong Open last year and makes his return as the world's best player, a two-time Major winner and only the second man after England's Luke Donald to win the money race on both sides of the Atlantic.
"It's very nice this year to win the money list on both sides of the Atlantic. Picking up these awards at the end of the year is always a nice honour and it's very special," said McIlroy.
"I just want to keep improving, keep trying to become a better golfer and if I can do that, then hopefully the tournament wins will come and more Majors will come with that," added McIlroy.
With his tennis star girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki watching him play this week, McIlroy is also expected to draw the big crowds to the Hong Kong Golf Club.
"This will be my sixth Hong Kong Open and I've had a great record. Hong Kong is just a great city, it always has a great buzz, a great atmosphere and something about Fanling and the Hong Kong Golf Club that I really enjoy," said the world number one who will be looking to extend his remarkable record at the UBS Hong Kong Open where he won last year, runner-up in 2008 and 2009, and tied sixth in 2010.
Meanwhile Philippines' Miguel Tabuena is finding himself in a similar position as where he was last season again.
Languishing in 81st position on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, Tabuena knows he needs a solid performance so that he can break into the top-60 on the rankings and earn his full playing rights for next season.
The 18-year-old, who missed out on his Tour card by one position last season, vows never to let such a situation repeat itself again.
"I'm more confident with my game now as compared to a year ago. I managed to put myself into contention twice this year and I was unlucky not to win," said Tabuena of his performances in Philippines and Thailand.
"If Manassero can win at 19 and I'm only a year younger, I don't see why I cannot do that. Hopefully I can do well to make a big move up the Order of Merit," added Tabuena who is playing on a sponsor's invite this week.
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