McIlroy embarks on journey of 'discovery'
Updated: 2011-10-09 07:40
SHANGHAI, China - Rory McIlroy admitted he is humbled by the opportunity to travel across the world's most populous nation in the seven-day, seven-city Shui On Land China Golf Challenge, which tees off in Shanghai on Monday and concludes in Macao on Sunday.
McIlroy's recent run of success has made the popular 22-year-old the favorite to win the 18-hole event, as he competes against world number two Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Chinese number one Liang Wenchong over two or three holes at each of eight courses.
However, the US Open champion said he's most excited about exploring more of China and making the most of a city-hopping itinerary that also stops in Zhengzhou, Beijing, Dalian, Chongqing and Dongguan.
"To play eight different courses, 18 different holes, in seven cities all over China is going to be a very unique experience," said the Northern Irishman, who has visited Shanghai and Guangdong province on previous visits to the mainland.
"To have these opportunities to discover new parts of the world, to discover China, to discover different cities that I haven't been to, are things that not a lot of people get to do. I'm very fortunate to be in the position that I am."
Andrew "Chubby" Chandler, who manages McIlroy and Westwood and will accompany them in China, said the multi-city format of the tournament had earned it great recognition among the game's top players.
"I was at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and I had a load of other golfers coming up to me and asking about the Shui On Land China Golf Challenge and how they could be in it next year. It has generated a lot of attention with golfers and fans."
McIlroy has generated a lot of attention himself following his record-breaking win in the US Open in June and will be a star attraction in China.
All four golfers are used to life in the limelight, and the quartet will be filmed throughout the Shui On Land China Golf Challenge as they fly on Bombardier jets from Shanghai on the east coast to the north, west and south of the country.
"I think what Shui On Land is doing, putting their name to such a big event and showcasing what China has to offer across the world, is huge," said McIlroy, who has won over 2.5 million on this year's European Tour.
"We always enjoy playing in front of big crowds and the Chinese fans are always very enthusiastic and want to be part of the action. I think everyone's going to really enjoy it and it's going to be seven days of a lot of fun."
Cultural attractions aside, the in-form McIlroy admitted he's keen to win after finishing third, third and second in his last three European Tour events, results that consolidated his reputation as one of the game's rising stars and vaulted him to second place behind world No 1 Luke Donald in the Race to Dubai.
(China Daily 10/09/2011 page8)