WGC-HSBC Champions Puts an Exclamation Mark on Europe’s Miraculous Year
The day before his 28th birthday, Francesco Molinari put the finishing touches on four days of incredible golf, becoming the first wire-to-wire winner of the WGC-HSBC Champions, and the top five players are all from Europe, which emphatically proving that world golf in 2010 belonged almost exclusively to Europe.
Positioned first and second each day and separated only by one shot at the close of each round on the further-toughened Sheshan International Golf Club track, Molinari and new world number one Lee Westwood put on a stunning display throughout. On the final day both shot five-under-par 67s (a score bettered only by Katsumasa Miyamoto), despite being in the pressure-cooker environment of the leading group. Neither had a bogey in their final round, and Westwood’s cards were unblemished throughout the weekend as the two of them left the rest of a world-class field miles behind; Luke Donald and Richie Ramsey tied for third 10 shots adrift of Molinari’s 19-under total of 269.
“I'm obviously amazed the way I played, and you know, to have the No. 1 player in the world trailing you by one shot, it's not easy. I was under pressure all the time, pretty much from the first round. I managed to stay calm, play my game, and holed putts when I had to hole putts.” Molinari said.
Woods was sixth on 7-under, Kaymer 30th on minus 2 and Mickelson, twice a Shanghai winner, 41st and one-over par for the tournament. Having arrived at the HSBC Champions as the newly-crowned world number one, ending Tiger’s five-year monopoly of the position, Westwood delivered a display worthy of that ranking and further strengthened his grip on it.
“No negatives in a performance like that! The rankings come as a consequence of playing well, and I'm playing well and I know I am.” Westwood declared.
The other winners were the tournament itself and golf in China and Asia. After a successful debut as a WGC event in 2009, 2010 confirmed that the concept of a World Golf Championship event on the other side of the world to golf’s heartlands is a success. Crowds were close to 2009’s record-setting figures with over 31,000 attending the event, and the record-breaking TV coverage increased again, particularly with highlight shows on terrestrial channels in Asia.