José María Olazábal was reunited with his Ryder Cup heroes ahead of this week’s inaugural BMW Masters as 11 members of the victorious European Team came together for the first time since the dramatic defeat of the United States in Chicago.
Inspirational Captain Olazábal was joined by Nicolas Colsaerts, Luke Donald, Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Paul Lawrie, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Francesco Molinari, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood, who will all be competing against each other for the lion’s share of the US$7million prize fund at Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai, China.
The team, only missing Sergio Garcia, had plenty to catch up following their historic comeback in the Singles at Medinah Country Club to defeat the United States 14½-13½ and retain the Ryder Cup.
Englishman Poulter, who was so inspirational as Europe’s talisman in winning four points out of four and galvanising the team on the Saturday afternoon, returns to action for the first time since his heroics, and admitted that he was still pinching himself at what unfolded.
“It was very special,” he said “I think everybody as a team bonded very well. That Sunday will go down in history.
“Everybody is so proud of what's happened to European golf and for each and every member of the team. So to get us all back together again, all but one, it's great. It's great to see everybody again and to get back into some normality.
“I'm looking forward to this event very much. I always play well in Asia at the back end of the year. I generally take a few weeks off before it and I haven't won yet this year, so hopefully I can do so over the next few weeks and I'd love to knock this one of off.”
German Martin Kaymer, whose point kept the Ryder Cup in European hands, also revelled in meeting up with his teammates and reminiscing about one of the most memorable Ryder Cups of all-time.
“Obviously it's nice to see ten of the other guys again,” said the former World Number One, “What we did that week was, for me personally, very, very important. It's kind of like a career high - I don't even know if it gets higher than that.
“I was just very pleased to be part of that historical moment, and it's nice to see the guys again and to talk a little about special moments that happened that week. I'm sure some of The Ryder Cup members are going to play together this week again, and then there will be more chats about it. It's quite nice to be part of it and it's good to see them all again.”
World Number One Rory McIlroy, who won the Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters last year at this week’s host venue, is hoping to secure a BMW double after winning the BMW Championship on the US PGA Tour last month.
“It would be very special,” he said. “Obviously it's been a great couple of months for me with the US PGA and the two FedExCup wins and being part of that unbelievable Ryder Cup, as well.
“So it would be nice. I've got great memories of Lake Malaren from last year, getting my first win in Asia. BMW is a great sponsor and it's great to have them on board, not just this week but for all of the tournaments that they sponsor. They are very supportive of golf as a whole globally, and you know, the players really appreciate it.
“My one last big goal of the year is to win The Race to Dubai and try to emulate what Luke did last year, winning both money titles. I'll be giving it my all this week, and trying to get another win.”
Westwood, who won the Ballantine’s in Korea in 2011, is looking forward to competing against the strong field that includes four of the top five players in the world.
“I really enjoy playing in Asia,” said the Englishman. “I've been coming out since 1994 and I've had a good few tournaments here and a good few wins.
“It's somewhere I've always played well, and I'm looking forward to this week. I think it's great that BMW sponsors as many events as they do in golf in these times. The European Tour is very lucky, and obviously they have a tournament in the United States, as well. We need sponsors like BMW, and they put on a great tournament. The infrastructure is great. We play on great venues and we bring together fantastic fields, which this week is just the same.
“It's a real quality field, and nice to see everybody back together after The Ryder Cup after such a successful week that week.”