A press conference at the BMW Experience Centre in Shanghai, China, heralded the countdown to the BMW Masters, which boasts a prize purse of US$7million.
From October 24-27, the elite field – which includes World Number Three Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, defending champion Peter Hanson of Sweden, Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood of England, his compatriot Ian Poulter and local favourite Wu-Ashun will gather at Lake Malaren Golf Club to compete for the coveted title.
Ivan Koh, President of BMW China Automotive Co., Ltd., stressed the importance of the BMW Masters.
“Last year was an important year for BMW,” he said. “Through our return to the Asian golf scene, we not only helped to complete BMW’s presence on the golfing world map but this high-class event also enabled golf fans from China and throughout Asia to experience the joy of golf, which has always been so important to BMW. This year, we are stepping up our commitment to golf, and are looking to present a world-class tournament – both for the fans and the players.”
The BMW Masters has undoubtedly taken on even greater significance this year, as the tournament opens The European Tour’s ‘Final Series’, which consists of four events and concludes with the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai – the finale of The Race to Dubai.
“This development really increases the value of the BMW Masters,” said Simon Leach, The European Tour’s representative in Asia. “The tournament is the first event in the Final Series of The Race to Dubai. Only those who have played at least two of the three preceding events can qualify for the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai – and so challenge for The Race to Dubai title.”
Two stars who will do battle for the prestigious title in October are McIlroy and Westwood.
“I’m really looking forward to returning to Shanghai,” said McIlroy, who narrowly lost out to winner Peter Hanson at Lake Malaren Golf Club last year. “I always try to do my best at every tournament, but the fact that the BMW Masters will open the Final Series in The Race to Dubai should give all of us an extra boost of motivation.”
Westwood added: “The 2012 BMW Masters was an impressive tournament – the Chinese fans were very enthusiastic. I hope I can present them with a victory on the first stop of the Final Series in The Race to Dubai.”
Just as it did last year, the 2013 BMW Masters will spearhead BMW’s extensive commitment to golf in China. In close cooperation with the China Golf Association (CGA), 14 Chinese players will be given a ‘wildcard’ into the tournament. Among them will be the winners of the BMW Junior Open and the Chinese BMW Golf Cup International, who will be given the chance to compete against world-class players at the BMW Masters.
“We greatly value the extent to which BMW is supporting the development of golf in China,” said Wang Liwei, Deputy Director General of the Multi-Ball Games Administrative Centre of General Administration of Sport of China, and Vice-President of the CGA. “I’m confident that the Chinese players will take full advantage of this amazing opportunity, and learn from their opponents at this world-class event. For them, this is an important step in their preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games.”