The European Tour, the China Golf Association and BMW today unveiled a new tournament on The European Tour International Schedule, the US$7 million BMW Masters at the Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai from October 25-28, 2012.
The BMW Masters will bring the total number of tournaments on The 2012 Race to Dubai now to 47 and represents the third on mainland China this year. It will also be the first of two consecutive weeks of European Tour action on mainland China with the BMW Masters preceding the WGC-HSBC Champions at Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen.
The announcement of the tournament was made by Dr Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Marketing and Sales, George O'Grady, European Tour Chief Executive, Zhang Xiao-ning from the CGA and Shi Jian, Chairman of SRE Group, parent company of Lake Malaren Golf Club Shanghai at the Beijing Auto Show in the nation’s capital on Monday afternoon.
Ian Robertson said: “As the name indicates, the BMW Masters will play a particularly significant role in BMW’s commitment to the sport as a ‘Global Golf Player’. The BMW Masters is another highlight in our sustainable global golf strategy. China is a key market for BMW and golf is the ideal stage, on which to present our claim of dynamics and precision. We are delighted to be able to offer our customers and spectators from throughout Asia a top-class event – both in terms of the sport on offer and the overall visitor experience.”
George O’Grady said: “We are proud of many partnerships we enjoy across the world of golf, but one of the most enduring is with BMW for whom this tournament represents the third title sponsorship on The European Tour in 2012, and the 45th in total over the past 23 years since the first BMW International Open in Munich in 1989. BMW is renowned for its commitment to innovation and exceptional standards of excellence in promoting professional golf tournaments, and the visit to Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai in October will once again underline that fact. Additionally The European Tour has always been made to feel so welcome by the Chinese Golf Association with whom we also have a strong committed partnership.”
Zhang Xiao-ning said; “We admire the outstanding vision and shrewd market investment of BMW Group. The BMW Masters will play a positive role in promoting the popularization and development of the world and China golf games, as well as taking the competitiveness of golf to a new level. At the same time, I hope all the contestants to present the charisma of golf for the fans giving their best performances.”
The BMW Masters will take its place on The European Tour calendar and, after the Majors, World Golf Championships and the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, will be the most lucrative event on the Tour. The exclusive field will consist of 78 players, led by current World Number One Rory McIlroy, with the majority featuring in the top 100 from the Official World Golf Ranking. The remaining start places will be four players invited directly by the organisers and a 14-man contingent from the Chinese Golf Association (CGA).
“I am already looking forward to teeing off at the new tournament,” said McIlroy, who won last year’s Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters, which is now being replaced by the BMW Masters. “Thanks to the involvement of BMW, the tournament will now be one of the very best events in the world. That obviously makes it all the more exciting to defend my title there.”
Helping launch the tournament, Open Champion Darren Clarke teed off from the BMW exhibition stand using an explosive golden ball. McIlroy’s fellow Northern Irishman Clarke was the last man to win the BMW Asian Open in 2008.
Clarke recalled his emotional success back in 2008. “I still have very vivid memories of what was a great tournament,” said the 43 year old. “I cannot praise BMW's commitment to golf highly enough. For years BMW has demonstrated around the world just how close the game is to the brand's heart. Golf would be in a far worse state without the involvement of BMW. We professionals all really appreciate what the company is doing for the game.”
As well as the BMW Masters, BMW’s long-term commitment to The European Tour also includes the Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club in England and the BMW International Open in Germany.
The Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai, home to the BMW Masters in October, was designed by golfing legend Jack Nicklaus and received rave reviews when it was used for tournament play for the first time last year.