woods in face-off

SHANGHAI - Tiger Woods renews his battle with Phil Mickelson in China this week as Asia hosts its biggest golf tournament ever with the HSBC Champions now elevated to World Golf Championship status.

SHANGHAI - Tiger Woods renews his battle with Phil Mickelson in China this week as Asia hosts its biggest golf tournament ever with the HSBC Champions now elevated to World Golf Championship status.

The last time the world's top two players met, Mickelson surged to victory at the Tour Championship, leaving Woods trailing in second place.

It will be another intriguing showdown at the Sheshan International Golf Club in an event that has attracted a compelling list of the sport's best players, with a $7million (R55,5million) purse.

Mickelson won in 2007 but Woods has only managed second here, in 2005 and 2006.

"I've come close a couple of times and hopefully this week I can put my game together and improve on those finishes," said Woods, who last month became the first sportsman to break through the billion-dollar earnings barrier.

"It is an event that symbolises the amazing progress of golf in Asia and its new World Golf Championship (WGC) status underlines how firmly China has established its place on the global golf calendar."

Mickelson, who finished eighth last year, is relishing another crack at the title.

"After the Open Championship, it is hard to think of a bigger and better tournament held outside America," said the American world No 2.

"It gives us the strongest field in our fastest growing and potentially largest market. I'm convinced the HSBC getting WGC status is a truly great thing for our tours."

Apart from Mickelson, Woods will come up against Asia's first major winner, Yang Yong-Eun.

Not only did the Korean beat Woods to claim the PGA Championship but also memorably held him off to triumph here in 2006, setting up an enticing rematch. - Sapa-AFP

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