Less than a fortnight ago, Hanson was the overnight leader going into the final round at Augusta National but the Swede shot a 2-over 73 to finish tied for third. “I am very proud of the performance,” Hanson said. “I have to say when I left the 18th green on Sunday I was a little bit disappointed but that left me pretty quick.”
Hanson has been close to a win all season, with the Masters his fourth top-five finish.
Also in a confident mood at Binhai Lake Golf Club was Englishman Ian Poulter, who finished seventh at the Masters, three shots behind Hanson. He said: “I like coming out to Asia and have had some success in this part of the world. I get a nice reception here and have a decent fanbase, which is always nice – that’s why I like coming out to play.”
The course is only two years old but plays long at 7,011 metres (7,667 yards). After a longer than usual winter in Tianjin, very little new grass has grown, meaning there is not much thick rough, but one defence for the course could be the fact it is wide open and susceptible to strong winds.
Also in the field are Paul Casey, the 2006 China Open winner who will look to continue his comeback from a shoulder injury, Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts who won last year at a tournament-record 24 under, and Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark who secured his first European Tour title at the Sicilian Open three weeks ago.
Casey will be thinking of his closet as well as his clubs when he takes to the Binhai Lake course. The Englishman won the tournament six years ago when it was held in Shenzen and still has the golden jacket to prove it, and now he is hoping to add another one to his collection. Casey said: “It would be very nice to have a closet full of those when I end my career. Winning is a special thing and I have to say that I like to win tournaments that carry a jacket. Obviously everyone wants the green one, but it is a cool prize to win here and I like playing in China.
“Shenzen was a great course and has great people and I just like coming to this country. I always get a lot of support here and, hopefully, that can continue this week.”
Casey endured a frustrating start to the season after a dislocated shoulder suffered while snowboarding kept him out until March, but he believes he is getting back to something like his best form. The 34-year-old said: “Sitting around on the couch has brought the passion back and now I just have to put in a lot of hard work to get back to the required standard.
“The ball-striking is good, but I just don’t have the consistency yet. The razor sharpness in the putting isn’t there yet, but I have made great strides. The confidence is growing every single day and I really believe I will be in that winner’s circle soon.”
Also in the field will be Guangzhou teenager Guan Tian-lang, who at 13 years and 173 days old, will make history as the youngest player ever to appear in a European Tour event, beating the record of Lo Shik-kai, who was 13 years and 280 days old when he played in the 2003 Hong Kong Open.
Guan thought he had missed out when he finished agonisingly short of his top-three target in the mid-China qualifying event in Hangzhou three weeks ago, but winner Wu Kang-chun was exempt, lifting Guan into the qualification spots.
He said: “I really couldn’t be happier – I’m so excited right now. I was really disappointed to lose out in the play-off and I thought I’d blown a great chance to make history, but then to find out I’m actually going to play is like a dream come true.
“My goal now is to be the youngest player ever to make the cut in a European Tour event, and I think, if I can shoot level par or better, I’ll have a good chance to do that.”
Guan began playing golf at the age of four and became world champion for his age group in San Diego last year, winning by 11 shots. Guan will tee off this afternoon in a group also containing Oliver Fisher and Marcus Fraser, while Poulter and Hanson have been paired together alongside Francesco Molinari and Casey joins Simon Dyson and Nicolas Colsaerts.
Paul Lawrie was at Murcar Links last weekend to see the climax of the Scottish Boys’ Championship, sponsored by his foundation, and he will tee off alongside Terry Pilkadaris of Australia and Denmark’s Soren Hansen.
Other Scots in the field include George Murray, Scott Jamieson, Peter Whiteford, Marc Warren, Steven O’Hara, Richie Ramsay, Colin Montgomerie, and the in-form Stephen Gallacher, who finished runner-up at the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur last weekend.