The Tiger Woods-Rory McIlroy matchup at Mission Hills' Blackstone course on Oct. 28 (Oct. 27 in the U.S.) is only the second time the two have squared off head-to-head in competition.
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Mission Hills Haikou's flagship, aptly named Blackstone. Situated on the northern tip of tropical Hainan Island in southernmost China, Mission Hills Haikou boasts 10 Brian Curley designs.
3 of 15Ryan Farrow
Hole No. 2
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Blackstone wows with a relentless lineup of heavily bunkered holes draped atop ancient black volcanic rock, a striking if unplayable hazard that frames many fairways.
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Hole No. 4
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Hole No. 5
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Hole No. 8
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With forced carries over jungle, rock and sand the norm, and at 7,808 yards, par 73 from the tips, the course should come with its own Bethpage-like warning sign: For expert players only.
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Hole No. 12
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Blackstone was first tested by the pros at the 2011 World Cup. Northern Ireland (Rory McIlroy/Graeme McDowell), England (Ian Poulter/Justin Rose) and Sweden (Henrik Stenson/Robert Karlsson) were the favorites, but the surprise winners turned out to be the upstart U.S. team of Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland.
11 of 15Tom Breazeale
Mission Hills’ Shenzhen facility on the Chinese mainland earned the Guinness Book of World Records title for the largest golf club on Earth in 2004 with 10 courses and three clubhouses. The course count now numbers 12. Seven years later, its Hainan Island sibling to the south is well on its way, with 10 courses completed.
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Tiger Woods is coming off a season in which he won five times and was voted PGA Tour Player of the Year for the 11th time in his career. “I’ve played in China since 2001 and the event last year showed me there’s still huge enthusiasm for growing the game in cities all across the country, especially as it’s again an Olympic sport in 2016,” Woods said of his 2013 rematch with Rory McIlroy.
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Rory McIlroy, on the other hand, followed up his own PGA Tour Player of the Year campaign in 2012 with an abysmal 2013. He finished in the Top 5 just once, at the Valero Texas Open in April.
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The first Tiger-Rory matchup was 12 months ago, also in China, at the Duel at Jinsha Lake. McIlroy started quickly, with two birdies in three holes and led by two at the turn. A chip-in birdie by Woods at the par-3 12th brought him within one. According to AFP, McIlroy said he had "never seen so many people following one match."
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In the end, Tiger couldn't catch the kid. McIlroy nipped Woods, 67 to 68.
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