Open Champion Rory McIlroy, European Number One Henrik Stenson and World Number Four Justin Rose have become the latest star names to confirm their places at the opening event of the 2014 Final Series – the BMW Masters.
As the 2014 campaign reaches a crucial period across the globe with the final Major of the year, the US PGA Championship, next week and the race to make The 2014 Ryder Cup nearing its conclusion, eyes are already turning towards the four huge season-ending events starting at Lake Malaren, Shanghai, from October 28-November 2.
This year’s will be the third edition of the US$7million BMW Masters, which has already established itself as one of the foremost events on The Race to Dubai, with names such as four-time Major winner Ernie Els, Ryder Cup stars Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter, 15-time European Tour winner Thomas Bjorn and ever-popular Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez already confirmed as joining defending champion Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño in the field.
McIlroy returned to dominant form with victory at the 60th anniversary of the BMW PGA Championship in May and his win at The Open Championship ten days ago was the 25 year old’s third major title – a feat that only Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus had achieved by this early stage of their careers.
“I said it after my win in Wentworth: I feel like my season is just beginning,” said McIlroy. “And here we are: winning The Open was huge, and I am really looking forward to coming back to the BMW Masters. The course at Lake Malaren suits me and I have always played well here. I would obviously like to be at the top of the leaderboard and get off to a great start in the Final Series.”
McIlroy, who of course won the 2011 Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters before it became part of The European Tour International Schedule, also narrowly lost out to Sweden’s Peter Hanson on the same course in the 2012 BMW Masters before topping The Race to Dubai just a few weeks later.
Looking for his first victory in 2014 after his annus mirabilis in 2013, where the 38 year old won the US PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup play-off series and The Race to Dubai in the same year, Stenson narrowly missed out on a second title at the BMW International Open in June, losing out on the fifth hole of a dramatic play-off following a fourth place at the US Open at Pinehurst and the World Number Three was full of praise for the BMW Masters’ title sponsors.
“BMW is one of the greatest if not the greatest of our partners,” said Stenson. “It always looks after us very nicely and you know, when it is a BMW event, that you can expect high standards. Coming into the last four tournaments, the Final Series, starting with the BMW Masters, it is a good chance to make up some ground if you are behind. Or to pull away from the pack if you are in a great position. It is a very important tournament to get off to a good start.”
Meanwhile, Rose is looking for a third title of the year after winning the Quicken Loans National on the US PGA TOUR at the end of June before the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open two weeks later.
The Englishman finished tied in sixth place on his only previous appearance at the BMW Masters in 2012.
Rose’s compatriot Poulter enjoys playing in China and Shanghai, particularly since his victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions two years ago.
“The BMW Masters is going to be a fantastic tournament,” said the 38 year old. “I like Asia in general. I love being there and like the Lake Malaren course. And I have some lovely fans over there. I’m looking forward to returning and trying to get my hands on that trophy.”