Shanghai:British Open champion Paul Lawrie heads a field of golfers from no less than 40 nations at this week's China Open.
Lawrie will be up against Danish Ryder Cup star Thomas Bjorn, Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand in the tournament, the first of two back-to-back events co-sanctioned by the European and Asian tours.
Former winners Simon Dyson of England and Welshman Stephen Dodd round out the field, along with Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Anton Haig of South Africa and local favorite Liang Wenchong - a winner in Singapore last month.
The tournament tees off on Thursday on the Shanghai Silport Golf Club's 6,468-meter, par-71 course, which is newly upgraded to include holes lengthened to cope with the rising level of competition.
Missing from the tournament will be defending champion India's Jeev Milkha Singh, who decided to stay in the United States following his debut at the Masters.
Singh beat Fernandez-Castano by a stroke last year, when the tournament was held at Beijing's CBD International Golf Club, becoming only the second Asian to win a European Tour event.
This year's China Open carries a purse of $2 million, with the winner taking home $333,390.
Sponsor Volvo plans to move the tournament back to Beijing next year to coincide with the Chinese capital's staging of the 2008 Olympic Games.
The European and Asian tours will team again next week for the BMW Asian Open at Shanghai's Tomson course, won last year by Fernandez-Castano.