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Family Man: ‘DJ’ and Gretzky prepare to rock Hong Kong Open

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Back better than ever after a six-month break from competitive golf, reformed family man DUSTIN JOHNSON will be the star attraction at October’s UBS Hong Kong Open, where fiancée Paulina Gretzky will be among his entourage.


Dustin Johnson and Paulina Gretzky look likely to be the new ‘power couple’ at the UBS Hong Kong Open after the big-hitting PGA Tour star indicated that he’ll be accompanied by his famous fiancée for his tournament debut.

 

Johnson and Gretzky, who celebrated the birth of their first son in January, could succeed Rory McIlroy and tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, who proved a two-pronged attraction at Fanling in 2012 when the blonde Dane had her own security to ward off photograph seekers and autograph hunters.

 

The blonde Gretzky, daughter of ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, has had turns as a model, actress and singer, and is also likely to turn heads at Fanling, where Johnson is expected to dominate the short, tree-lined layout.

 

Johnson, 31, and English star Justin Rose, 34, will be the headline acts in Hong Kong, but it’s the big-hitting American who will be main draw as he seeks to add his name to a trophy won by the likes of McIlroy, Jose Maria Olazabal, Greg Norman, Ian Woosnam and Tom Watson.

 

 

The affable Johnson will be a star attraction as he makes his UBS Hong Kong Open debut. Photos: AFP.

The affable Johnson will be a star attraction as he makes his UBS Hong Kong Open debut. Photos: AFP.

What have you heard about the UBS Hong Kong Open, one of the oldest professional sporting events in Hong Kong?

Just from talking to a few couple players who have played it. They really enjoyed coming to Hong Kong and playing at the Hong Kong Golf Club and said it’s a great golf course. They really enjoyed Hong Kong as a city and I have been there and experienced a little bit and enjoyed also. I’m just very excited to come to play the UBS Hong Kong Open. I haven’t received any tips from players about how to play the course.

 

So, when did you previously visit Hong Kong?

I visited for one night a couple of years ago. I stayed at a fantastic hotel, had a great dinner at a steakhouse. I really enjoyed the city. I had a lot of fun and I’m excited to come back.

 

How’s your game coming along and what are your expectations in Hong Kong?

Right now, my game is in pretty good shape. I have played pretty well and I’d like to play a little bit better here in the next few weeks before I get to Hong Kong. I expect to win every week that I play, so when I come to Hong Kong, I’ll be expecting to win or at least have a chance to win on the back nine on Sunday.

 

What convinced you to come and play?

I’ve heard it’s a great event. I like to play different events, no matter where they’re at in the world. That was one of the draws that got me there. It was a week in my schedule where I didn’t have anything else going on. It was just a good time for me to travel and play another worldwide event.

 

Justin Rose and Johnson, pictured at the Masters, will be the headline acts in Hong Kong.

Justin Rose and Johnson, pictured at the Masters, will be the headline acts in Hong Kong.

How well do you know Justin Rose, who will also compete at the Hong Kong Open?

Justin and I are both TaylorMade players, so we spend a lot of time together and have played a lot golf together. He’s a great player, he’s got a great game – an all-around game. He drives it well, his irons are very good and he is a good wedge player, so I think he’s got a great game.

 

Fanling is a short, tree-lined course, so do you think you will have to rein in your power game and have you thought much about your game plan?

I haven’t seen the golf course yet, so I don’t really know that, I grew up playing on short, tree-lined golf courses. I don’t mind short, tight, tree-lined courses. I struggle when there are no trees.

 

Do you find it challenging to travel so far for tournaments?

It’s always a challenge when you’re travelling so far, but the last time I played over there I won the WGC-HSBC Champions [in Shanghai], so the travelling doesn’t bother me and I’m looking forward to getting out and seeing the golf course. Hopefully I can get online and have a look at it so I have somewhat of a game plan before I get out there. I’ll just go out and inspect the golf course.

 

You became a father in January. Will your son and fiancée accompany you to Hong Kong?

Paulina, most likely, will be coming. I’m not sure if my son will be coming. My son will probably stay at home in LA with the grandparents.

 

You took a six-month sabbatical last year. How did that help change your outlook on life?

I got to work a lot on my game and my physical game in the gym. The birth of my son was by far the best thing that ever happened to me. That completely changed my mindset as far as things that were important aren’t important any more. He’s the most important thing. Whether I have a bad day on the golf course, as soon as I see him, it really doesn’t matter any more.

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