Past Champions Phil Mickelson, Martin Kaymer, Francesco Molinari along with Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Nick Watney, Keegan Bradley and Brandt Snedeker are greeted by 60 caddies ahead of this year's
tournament which takes place at Mission Hills, Dongguan.
It seems that the 15th will be the hole to watch. It is a par five of 580 yards and one which, says Phil Mickelson, the players will need to birdie if they want to stay around the top of the leader-board: "It's interesting, he began."There are many ways to play it and it's a hole which is almost certainly going to be important to the final result."
Bubba Watson, the Masters champion, explained how he only needed a driver, a seven-iron and two putts in his first reconnaissance round. But he added that any hole where you are hitting to one island off the tee - and to another with the shot to the green - could just as easily turn into a disaster as a birdie or an eagle.
For Mickelson, this WGC-HSBC Champions represents his first time back on the competitive scene since he was a member of the losing US team in the Ryder Cup. The disappointment attached to that result is with him still. "It took a good week to shake of the initial disappointment," he admitted. "It was a tough low, one of my biggest lows. It was also a really emotional time because we were set to win and we had expected to win."
Yet there were positives for this former Masters champion. Firstly, he picked up a lot from partnering Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA Champion. In the foursomes, he found it something of an eye-opener to be hitting his seconds from fairways where Bradley had done the driving. It has given him a new zest for hitting straight himself.
Bradley could understand why. He said that Mickelson's irons are so classy that, if he were to start hitting more fairways, he could carry on being competitive until well into his 50s. "Phil's short game is so amazing," he stressed. "If he hit his wedge more than five feet from the hole I was in shock."
Mickelson will himself have the feeling that he can carry on forever at the moment. Apart from the fresh wave of enthusiasm gleaned from playing with Bradley, he has been finding putting a whole lot easier since he started using the claw grip. His caddie, "Bones" has been fascinated to see the way his man's new confidence on the greens has been seeping into the rest of his play.
Mickelson, in an afternoon photo-shoot, was asked to pass on some of his legendary bunker-play skills to local juniors. He said all the children had great swings but that what impressed him still more was their ability to take on minor changes at the first time of asking.
At the end of the session, they were all hitting the kind of soft, high escape-shots which are the American's speciality.
Mickelson suggested that we can expect to see a strong contingent of Chinese players showing in the upper echelons of the pro game in 15-20 years' time.
Colin Montgomerie, though he is not playing this week, is one who believes that it could all happen a bit sooner. The Scot predicts that the Asian golfers will win at least six majors between now and 2020.